We are pretty vigilant here on the farm with checking the pigs overall health. This is easy to do because we spend so much time with them, so if there is something seriously wrong, or even slightly off, we notice it almost right away. There are a few things, however, that are only noticed through a more thorough inspection. Two of these issues are worms and mange. Worms are pretty easy to notice as they will be visible in and around the anus. Once we see this, the whole group will get some de-worming medication added to their feed and it goes away pretty quickly.
The beginning stages of mange are hard to find. It usually starts in the ears, and we therefore check the inside of the pigs ears on a regular basis. Upon one such inspection, Dan saw signs of mange in two of the eldest piglets. It appears as a white and flakey crust (if I were writing about pie, that wouldn’t be such a bad thing) rather deep inside the ear. The mange is caused my a small mite similar to scabies. It’s usually carried by one pig (or other animal) and spread to the rest. It’s relatively easy to get rid of; a medication called Ivermectin does the trick. But this is administered as inter-muscular injection, so we had to prepare ourselves to give the pigs a round of shots.
The piglets weren’t going to be the problem, they are small enough to wrangle, and Garnett hasn’t been given a shot before, so she doesn’t know what’s coming. But Ruby, poor poor Ruby. She still kinda hates Dan and myself, and she can tell when things aren’t right. Thus the chase began, and after 10 minutes of running around, trying to pin and tackle her, we finally got her into a corner and gave her the shot. Garnett, on the other hand, behaved like a champ!
Giving the piglets the shots was easy, catching them was very tiring. They are darn fast and there is a lot of room for them to run around in. But all you gotta do is get a good grip on one back leg, and you’re golden. Then you need to pick it up by both back legs and take it to the other side of the electric fence all the while trying to avoid to a pair of very angry mothers! I was a bit worried as Ruby had actually cut Dan’s leg yesterday when she got cranky with him, and I was thinking that this was the moment when she was going to get her revenge: get the guy with the screaming piglet in his arms!!
Yet we were successful and the medication should take care of the mange in a matter of days. We are off to the woods now to see if any of the larger pigs have mange, if so, we are in for an exhausting day, as none of those pigs are small enough to wrangle and there are almost no spots to pin them down in, so I have my fingers crossed...