1919 Farm Journal Illustrated Rural Directory Of
Genesee County, Michigan
Hog Ailments & How to Treat Them


By Holice, Clayton, and Debbie



More has been spoken and written on the subject of hog cholera than upon any other subject connected with hogs. It has ever been a fruitful source for discussion at farmers' institutes and an endless these on which to write. The government has appropriated large sums of money and has employed learned men who have labored with seeming diligence for years, and yet after all these years of waiting and all this expenditure of money we are forced to admit, whether humiliating or note, that we know but very little that is of practical benefit about the whole matter.

But two things are absolutely known about the disease. One is that it sweeps unrestrained over vast areas of country, leaving death and destruction in its wake; and the other is that hogs which contract the disease usually die.

We shall not attempt to deal with this subject ina scientific way, but shall deal with it rather from a practical standpoint.

A somewhat recent means of preventing the disease is the serum or antitoxin cure. It consists in introducing into the system of the animal a serum which enables the body to more successfully combat the disease. The Government officials seem to be highly pleased with the results so far and seem to believe that relief from the dread disease is likely to come through this means. The serum produced last year, wherever used in cholera-infected herds, saved over eighty per cent of the animals. It is easily applied, and is good effects in sick hogs are seen almost immediately.

Page after page has been written as a means of telling hog cholera, but much of it is difficult of comprehension to the average reader. If you have never had it in your herd you are to be congratulated on your good fortune; and if you ever do, when you are done with it you may not have as many hogs as you did before, but rest assured of one thing, and that is you will know hog cholera when you see it again. As a rule hogs do not look well for weeks before an attack. At other times it will come like a bolt of lightning from a clear blue sky. The first thing noticeable is a loss of appetite; the hair will look harsh and dry; sometimes a slight cough will be noticeable, at other time not. The disease is sometimes of slow development, at other times quite rapid. Instead of the sprightly, rapid movement so characteristic of the young and growing hog, he moves slowly and indifferently; he looks gaunt and tired; his back is arched, and he moved his hind legs with a dragging motion; his temperature will most likely be high, probably from 104 to 106--the normal temperature of the hog is from 100 to 102. His bowels may be costive or the discharges will be thin and watery in substance, but usually black, or dark in color, emitting an offensive odor peculiar to the disease.

The disease may be of a lingering character, and the animals linger for weeks, or they may die in three or four days. Usually the lingering type is less fatal than the more rapid forms of the disease. Hogs which discharge freely in the first stages of the disease are more likely to recover than when the bowels remain constipated. Dark blue spots will often appear under the skin. The bowels will be more or less inflamed inside; in the small intestines and sometimes in the stomach will be found ulcers; this, however, is not common in the first stages of the disease. The bladder will most likely be full of a dark thick substance, showing that the kidneys, and in fact the whole internal organism, are affected.

If we were to say what we thought was the best thing that could possibly be done when cholera appears ina herd, we would unhesitatingly say, take the well hogs to clean new quarters where no hogs have been for years. then if more of them take sick move them again, and it is our belief based on actual experience that more can be accomplished in this way then by the use of all the medicine in the country. For various reasons it is not always possible to move hogs, and in that case treatment may be resorted to sometimes with fairly good results. The treatment should consist in separating the well from the sick hogs, and in dividing the sick hogs according to age and size and severity of the attack. Not more than four or five hogs should be in the same pen, and fewer would be better. Feed but little, and let that be food which is easily digested. Use air-clacked line and crude carbolic acid freely as a disinfectant. Use it both on the hogs and on the ground, in the sleeping places, on the fences and in the drinking vessels. As much depends on a thorough use of disinfectants as upon any other thing. If the bowels are constipated give something to move them. If too loose give something to check them. In short, use good common horse sense (so to speak) and you will usually succeed very well. We know of no food better, if indeed as good, for sick hogs than ship stuff, or middlings as it sometimes called; it seems to digest easily and is soothing to the bowels.

If the weather is wet and cold keep the hogs dry and warm. In wet weather (if not too warm) keep the hogs ina floored pen, or at least in a pen where no water will lie in sinks or holes, as dirty water is one of the worse things a sick hog can possibly have. If the weather is warm, shelter the hog from heat. In other words, make him as comfortable as possible.

Let it be borne constantly in mind that much depends on good nursing. It would seem natural and reasonable that an animal afflicted as he is would do best if allowed plenty of fresh water to drink, but actual experience demonstrates that a greater number recover when the supply of water is limited than when it is not.

Hogs that are very sick should be kept by themselves, as others seem to disturb them, and often their recovery depends on being perfectly still at the critical period of the disease. As a rule hogs that are too sick to eat die. All hogs that die of cholera, or of any other disease for the matter of that, should be burned and not buried, as abundant evidence can be produced to prove that the carcasses of hogs dying of cholera have been the cause of an outbreak years afterward. By all means burn all dead hogs as the only absolutely safe way of disposing of them. The burning operations is very simple. Lay the bodies across two logs, sticks or pieces of iron that will keep them up off the ground so that the fire can get under them, and the grease from their own bodies will usually do the work, with a little wood or corn cobs added occasionally.

Experience teaches that the disease more commonly appears in large herds than in small ones. The moral of this, then, is easily understood. Do not keep hogs in large droves. Not over twenty-five or thirty hogs at most should long remain together, and half the number would be infinitely better and sager in every way. Hogs of different sizes and ages should not be kept together, excepting, of course, sows and suckling pigs. Hogs should not be kept on the same ground from year to year if it can possibly be avoided. Plow up the lots and pens and cultivate them for a year or two; it will greatly assist in keeping your lots free from the germ. The disease is much more prevalent in the summer and call months then in other seasons of the year. then as far as is possible reduce the number of hogs on the farm at this season of the year.

If your neighbor's hogs have the disease, stay away from his pens and be such he stays away from your. Shoot a crow, a buzzard, or a stray dog that comes on your place as unhesitatingly as you would kill a mad dog. If your hogs are fit or any way near fit to go to market when the disease makes its appearance in the neighborhood, sell them without delay. "A bird in hand is worth two in a bush." If your hogs have cholera this year, don't get discouraged and quit, but try again, on fresh ground.

If your brood sows have poised through the cholera, keep them; they are valuable. They will never again have the disease, and their pigs are not nearly so apt to contract it as pigs from sows that have not had the disease. Look out for streams which come down from some neighbor above you. This has been found a frequent cause of cholera outbreaks, the germs of hog cholera possess great vitality, and will live in the soil, in moist matter, and especially in water, for months.

If you feed corn, rake the cobs together often and burn them; pour water on the coals and then put salt on the charcoal thus made and you have an excellent preventative for diseases, with little or no cost. Keep your hogs, excepting brood sows, ready for market. It may come handy some day. Strong, vigorous hogs are less liable to contract the disease than hogs of less strength and vigor. Then breed and feed for both these things. Eternal vigilance in hog breeding, as in other kinds of business, is the price of success.

Here is a formula for the treatment of hog cholera that is probably as good as any, which is not saying much. It is suggested by the Department of Agriculture:



1 pound

Wood charcoal

1 pound

Sodium chloride

2 pounds

Sodium bicarbonate

2 pounds

Sodium hyposulphite

2 pounds

Sodium sulphate

1 pound

Antimony Sulphide

1 pound


Thoroughly mix and give a large tablespoonful to each 200-pound hog, once a day. If the animal does not eat, add the medicine to a little water, thoroughly shake and give from a bottle by the mouth. If the animal will eat, mix the medicine with sloppy food. The same remedy is recommended as a preventative to those animals that do not as yet show signs of disease.

If you have had cholera on your place, and you have small inexpensive pens, burn them at once. In a piggery, burn all the litter and loose inexpensive parts; renew the floor, if possible, and disinfect the remainder by washing it with hot water and washing soda. After washing, apply a whitewash brush or better yet a spray pump, a solution of one part carbolic acid to fifty parts of water. Then thoroughly white wash. Treat the fences in the same way. Earth floors should be removed to a depth of at lest six inches and the ground sprinkled with chloride of lime and a few days later a good coating of aid-slacked lime. Don't put pigs in the quarters for at least six months, and, if possible, have them vacant over the first winter.

An Ohio breeder of large experience in the Miami Valley, where hog cholera fist appeared in 1856 and had recurred at frequent intervals, holds that drugs, virus and antitoxin have all been fairly tried sundry times by him and his neighbors. He believes that prevention will do more to hold in check the plague than drugs and hypodermic infusions. The most important help tp prevent spread of disease is not to allow the hog farm to become infected with the excrement of diseased hogs. This can be done by quarantining the herd in a field, that is to be put under cultivation the following year. This quarantine must be established as soon as the first pig is taken sick. If the disease is in the neighborhood, carefully watch for first symptoms of disorder. Do not wait until several are sick and scouring, for this excrement is loaded with germs of disease, and these germs may retain vitality many months when covered in the corners of pens, or filth of yards, ora bout an old straw stack, but when exposed to sunlight, or dryness they lose vitality ina few days, and under some very drying sunlight conditions in a few hours. Carefully observing these facts, one has in forty years been clear of hog cholera the year following an attack, and on until the disease has become epidemic in his neighborhood. After the herd has been placed in quarantine away from the permanent hog houses, lots and feeding floors, he kills and burns, or buries five feet deep, each animal as soon as it shows distinct symptoms of disease. They are burned or buried beside the quarantine, and in the field to be cultivated the following year. It requires nerve to kill breeding stock of great value, but they are as liable to spread and entail disease as any other, when once attacked.

If, by any means, we can prevent spread of germs, by so much do we hold the disease in check. A farm, with its feed lots and pens and shelters infected by the excrement of the diseased, becomes a deadly a centre as the public stock-yards and filthy stock cars on the railroads, and these are so thoroughly infected that we can never safely take stock hogs from these to out farms. This is not theory, but well proven fact.

Pig ailments are numerous; we shall speak only of some of the most common.

It is always bet to give medicines mixed with ood or drink where possible. If the animal refuses food or drink and it is necessary to administer drugs, it maybe done by placing a stout chain (an ordinary harness breast chain does very well) within the mouth and well back between the jaws, which are thus kept from crushing the bottle. Two or three men are necessary for the undertaking, one or two to hole the chain and one to pour the medicine. The head should be well elevated, which places the pig on his haunches. Do not pour the medicine fast enough to strangle the animal.

Hogs will not do well when the skin is covered with filth. Bad air will bring on coughs; all corn for food, fever; a wet bed, rheumatism; and a big bunch together will breed disease. With a clean skin, good air, a variety of food, a dry bed and a few together, and lots of out-of-doors, they will do well.

When at pasture, they find many roots, nuts and pebbles, besides being continually active, which does more than food for their hearty health, rapid and easy digestion and speedy, profitable growth.

THUMPS.--This disease is quite common (especially in the early spring) and us exceedingly hard to handle when once contracted. More can be done to prevent then to cure. You visit the sow and litter in the morning to give them their accustomed feed, and you notice that one of the fattest and plumpest ones doe not leave his bed as do the others. You enter the sleeping room and compel him to come out, which he does somewhat reluctantly, and you will notice that his sides move with a peculiar jerking motion, and if allowed he will soon return to his bed. Rest assured he has thumps, and nine chances to one he will die. It is caused by fatty accumulations about the breast, which interfere with its action, and the lungs work hard--pump for dear life to keep up the heart's action--t send the blood through the body. The pig is faint because of feeble circulation, and he is cold, and soon dies from exhaustion, or weakness. He has no strength to such or move.

To prevent thumps, get over into the pen several times a day and hustle the little pigs about the pen; also stint the sow so that she will give less milk. Pigs when they stir about, and when they are thin in flesh, rarely have thumps.

Thumps rarely occurs among pugs farrowed after the weather is fine, but does quite frequently occur among pigs farrowed in early spring. If the weather is cold and stormy and the sow and her litter keep their bed much, then be on the lookout for thumps. Guard against I by compelling both sow and litter to exercise in the open air.

CANKEROUS SORE MOUTH is a disease which is quite common and which if not promptly taken in hand is often quite fatal. When pigs are from a few days to two weeks old, you may notice a slight swelling of the lips or a sniffling in the nose. An examination will show a whitish spongy growth on the sides o the mouth just inside the lips or around the teeth. This is cankerous sore mouth, and if not taken promptly in hand will result in the death of the entire litter, and will sometimes spread to other litters.

Some claim the disease is caused by damp and filthy beds, others say it comes from a diseased condition of the sow, and still others claim it is caused by the little pigs fighting over the teats and wounding each other with their sharp teeth, and stoutly aver that if the teeth are promptly removed no case of sore mouth will ever occur.

Hold the pig firmly and with a knife or some cutting instrument remove all the spongy foreign growth, and be sure you get it all even though the pig may squeal and the would bleed; your success in treating the disease will depend largely on the thoroughness wit which you remove the fungous growth. After removing the fungous growth apply an ointment made of glycerine and carbolic acid in about the proportion of one part of the acid to from five to eight parts gylcerine. Repeat this each day for three or four days and the disease will usually yield. You may discover ina day or two after commencing treatment that you did not succeed in removing all the cankerous growth at first, and if so, repeat the cutting operation till you do remove it all.

Another treatment which we have heard recommended is to catch the diseased pig and dip his nose and mouth up to his eyes in chlora naptholeum without diluting it. this is certainly easily done and is highly commended by the person suggesting it.

BLIND STAGGERS, INDIGESTION, SICK STOMACH, FOUNDER.--Causes, over-feeding, especially common with new corn; sour or decayed food. Sudden warm sultry weather predisposes in highly fed hogs. Insufficient exercise is also a predisposing cause.

SYMPTOMS.--Loss of appetite, bowels constipated, or maybe diarrhea. In some severe cases blind staggers and great paleness of mouth and nose, coldness of surface of body; abdomen may be distended and drum-like from contained gases.

Treatment.--Remove sick animals, provide clean, dry, well-ventilated quarters, with chance for exercise, and fresh earth and water. If animal will eat, give light feed. Give charcoal in lump form, also mix soda Bicarbonate in food at rate of two tablespoonfuls per day to each half-grown animal. It is rarely necessary to drench with medicine. If recovery begins, use care not to again feed too much.

MILK FEVER occurs in sows immediately after farrowing or within the first few days afterwards. The symptons are loss of milk, swollen, hard condition of the milk glands, which are more or less painful on pressure. Sow may not allow the pigs to such; she may lie flat on her belly or stand up and in extreme case the sow has spells of delirium, in which she may destroy her young.

Cause.--Injudicious feeding, overfeeding on milk-producing foods. Do not feed sow quite full rations for few days just before and after farrowing.

Treatment.--Give sow plenty of cool clean water; bathe the swollen glands for hafl hour at a time with water as warm as she will bear, dry thoroughly with soft cloth and give good dry pen. If bowels seem constipated give the sow internally one-half pint pure linseed oil. (Never use the boiled linseed oil used by painters; it is poisonous.) If the sow starts killing her young, or has no milk for them, it is best to take most of them, or all, away from her and feed by hand with spoon, or ordinary rubber nipple and bottle. For this use one part boiled water and three parts cow's milk. The pigs may be returned to the sow if her milk returns.

SCOURS among pigs is another common and very troublesome though not dangerous disease. This disease is not confined to any particular season, but is more common in the wet, damp weather of April and early may than in other seasons of the year.

As in thumps, remove the cause. This disease is almost invariably caused by some improper food eaten by the sow. A sour swill barrel is often the cause. It should be borne in mind that pigs once affected will be more liable to a recurrence of the disease than those never affected, and greater care should be used with them for some weeks till they fully recover.

CONSTIPATION.--Cause, improper feeding, exclusive grain diet, lack of exercise. Not dangerous in itself, but frequently followed by prolapsus of the rectum, or what is commonly called piles. The constant straining causes this. The only remedy is laxative food and exercise. The protruding bowel must be washed clean as soon as seen and well covered with olive oil or lard. It should then be returned by applying firm pressure with the hand, and when once in place should be retained by three or more stitches of waxed linen or heavy silk thread, passed from side to side through the margins of the opening, case being used to take a deep hold in the skin.

While this operation is being done the animal should be held by the hind legs by two assistants, thus elevating the hind quarters. Allow stitches to remain two or three weeks.

RHEUMATISM.-- A disease of the joints, manifested by pain, heat and lameness, with swelling of one or several joints. There may be high fever and loss of appetite. May be acute and rapid in its course, or slow, chronic and resulting in permanent enlargements of the bones of the legs, especially the knee and hock.

Causes.--Primarily deranged digestion, lack of exercise, dampness and exposure to draughts of cold air also a cause. The tendency of rheumatism is hereditary in certain families of hogs.

Treatment.--Endeavor to prevent by proper exercise, food and attention to surroundings. Do not breed rheumatic specimens even if fully recovered from lameness. In acute cases an adult hog should have twice or three times daily one drachm salicylate soda.

ASTHMA sometimes occurs in adult hogs.

Symptoms.--Shortness of breath on lease exercise, noisy breathing, more or less intermittent. Do not breed, butcher early.

CONGESTION OF THE LUNGS sometimes occurs, the result of driving or chasing. May be rapidly fatal.

Symptoms.--Sudden shortness of breath and sudden great weakness. The hog is not adapted to rapid driving; if it must be driven at all, give plenty of time.

PNEUMONIA (LUNG FEVER) may follow congestion of the lungs; may be induced by crowding too many hogs together, when they heat and become moist, after which they are in poor condition to withstand cold.

Symptoms.--Loss of appetite, chills, short coughs, quick breathing.

Treatment.--Separate sick at once from the drove; give dry quarters with abundance of dry bedding; tempt appetite with small quantities of varied food. Apply to sides of chest, enough to moisten the skim, twice daily, alcohol and turpentine equal parts; continue until skin becomes somewhat tender.

TETANUS (LOCK-JAW).--Caused by introduction into the system of the tetanus bacteria, which gains entrance through a wound.

Symptoms.-- A stiffness of more or less the entire muscular system, generally most marked in the jaws, which are greatly stiffened. Eating very slow, or entirely stopped; appetite not lost.

Treatment.--some cases recover if carefully nursed. Give nourishing drinks, elevate trough or bucket so the patient can get its snout into the drink; give dissolved in hot water and mixed with the slop forty grains bromide of potash two or three times daily until improvement is noticed. Do not attempt to drench. Any wound which seems to be a cause should be cleansed and wet often with five per cent solution of carbolic acid and water.

LICE.--Very commonly fund upon hogs. They are introduced by new purchases or by visiting animals.

Caution.--Examine the newly purchased hog well on this point before placing with the drove. Hog lice are quite large and easily detected on clean white animals, but not readily on dark or dirty skins.

Remedy.--Wash well with soap and water, if weather is not cold, then warm water, if weather is not too cold. Then apply enough petroleum and lard, equal parts, to give the skin a complete greasing. If weather is too cold for washing, clean with stiff brush. Creolin one part to water five part is also a safe and sure remedy. Two or more applications are necessary at intervals of four or five days to complete the job. The woodwork of pens and rubbing places must be completely whitewashed.

MANGE.--Caused by a microscopic parasite which lives in the skin at the roots of the bristles.

Symptoms.--Intense itching with redness of the skin from the irritation of rubbing. Rather rate, but very contagious.

Treatment.-- Separate diseased animal, scrub them thoroughly with warm water and strong soap; apply ointment composed of lard, one pound' carbonate of potash, one ounce; flor. sulphur, two ounces; wash and re-apply every four days.

MAGGOTS.--The larvae of the ordinary blow-fly frequently infests wounds on hogs during the summer months. Watch all wounds during hot weather; keep them wet frequently with creolin one part and water six parts, or five per cent. Watery solution carbolic acid. If the maggots gain entrance to the wound, apply either above remedies freely, or ordinary turpentine with a brush or common oil can.

ROUND WORMS.-- Cry common in shotes and young hogs, not apparently harmful unless in great numbers, when they cause loss of flesh. They may be exterminated by keeping the hog without food for twenty-four hours, and giving to each shote or old pig one tablespoonful of turpentine thoroughly beaten up with one egg and one-half pint of milk.

TUBERCULOSIS (CONSUMPTION).--A contagious disease common in man, cattle, and not rare in the hog.

Symptoms.--Loss of flesh, cough, diarrhea, swelling about the head and neck, which may open and discharge with little tendency to heal; death in from few weeks to months. Post mortem shows various sized tubercles, which may be situated in any part of the body, most commonly in the bowels, lungs. liver, or lands of the neck.

Causes.--Direct contagion from other hogs, but generally from feeding milk from tuberculosis cows, or by eating butcher offal from such cows.

Prevention.--Case as to the source of the milk fed; if suspicious, boiling well render it safe. Do not feed butcher offal; separate suspicious hogs at once, and if satisfied they are tuberculous, kill and bury deep, or burn them. The tuberculin test can be applied to the remainder of drove, as without it it is impossible to say how many maybe diseased.

WOUNDS generally heal readily in the hog if kept clean and free from maggots. The result of neglected castration wounds is sometimes serious. Have the animal clean as possible when castrated, and endeavor to keep it clean and give opportunity for abundant exercise until would is healed. There is probably nothing better and safer to apply to wound of the hog then creolin one part, water six parts.

TRAVEL SICKNESS.--Similar to ordinary sea-sickness in man; very common in shipping pigs by wagon.

Symptoms.--Vomiting, diarrhea, great depression; seldom, if ever fatal. May be rendered much less severe if very light feeding before shipment.


Measure the distance around the room, deduct the width of each window and door, take two-thirds of result. Divide this by the number of strips that can be cut from each roll and you have the number of rolls required. A roll is generally a foot and a half wide, 24 feet long and contains 36 square feet or 6 square yards.



Published By Wilmer Atkinson Company, Philadelphia, 1919

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