This disease is caused by tiny little living creatures called mites. They are almost too small to see, but they bore into the pig’s skin and lay tiny eggs there, under the skin. This makes the pig feel very itchy, so that it’s always scratching itself against trees, fence posts, rocks and other things. When the pig scratches itself this way, patches of hair may be rubbed off, and there may be open sores as the skin becomes infected from all the scratching and rubbing. Another thing, the more the pig scratches itself, the more the mites that cause the itching will spread to other parts of the pig’s body.
Your pig certainly won’t like this, and you won’t like it either because when your pig has scabies, it won’t grow as well as it should, its skin can become badly infected, and it may even lose weight; in general, it will be in poor condition and not worth as much as a healthy pig.
Now there are special medicines you can buy to treat scabies, but I’d like to tell you about a way you can treat the problem using something you probably already have. This method I’m going to tell you about is used by farmers in the Philippines and in Palau and in other countries too.
These farmers use oil. They rub it into the pig’s skin. You could do this for your pig if it has scabies. You could use coconut oil, or some other kind of oil you may have. Some people use motor oil, that’s motor oil, not petrol, kerosene or any kind of fuel oil. If you use motor oil, it’s best to use fresh clean motor oil that hasn’t been used in an engine. Dirty used oil could be bad for the pig or for people who later may eat meat from that pig.
Before you start treating your pig with oil, it’s a good idea to brush off the loose dirt and wash the pig well if you can; then let it dry.
After it’s dry rub the pig’s skin with the oil, all over its body if possible. If not much of the body is affected with scabies, or if you don’t have enough oil to treat the whole body, at least treat the parts where your pig scratches itself, and all the skin around that general area. Be sure to oil the pig’s face around its eyes, nose and ears, and right inside the ears too and also underneath the pig up at the top of its legs. It’s best, if you can, to oil the whole pig.
Here’s the reason for rubbing oil all over your pig: The oil kills most of the mites that cause scabies. However it doesn’t kill the mite eggs that mites have laid under the pig’s skin. These eggs will soon start hatching into young mites, and if you don’t kill these young mites too, the problem will start all over again. So you must repeat the oil treatment several times, until all the eggs have hatched and all the young mites have been killed. Rub the pig with oil every 2 or 3 days for at least 2 weeks.
After you’ve done all this for your pig, it will be healthier and more productive, and that will result in more food or more money for you and your family.
“But how,” you might ask, “do pigs get mange or scabies in the first place?”
Well, they get it from other pigs that have scabies, by being close to them or rubbing against them.
Because of this, try to keep your pigs away from any other pigs that might have scabies. If you’re buying a pig, before you buy it, be sure it doesn’t have the disease check it carefully for signs of itching and scratching.
Scabies usually starts near the head, around the eyes and nose. If not treated soon, it then spreads to the neck and shoulders, then the back and sides, and finally all over the whole body. By that time the disease is much harder to treat and control, and the pig is in poor condition. So it’s best to check each one of your pigs regularly, and if you see one scratching a lot, or with itchy sores on its face or body, start treating it with oil right away, before the scabies gets worse. Keep the pig apart from the others until it’s better, so the disease doesn’t spread.
Finally, pigs that are well fed and healthy are less likely to get scabies. So be sure to feed your pigs well, and have a clean dry place for them to sleep. Remember healthy pigs are more productive!
Serving Agriculture, the Basic Industry, this is George Atkins.
We at this radio station are part of a world wide information network that gathers farming information from developing countries all over the world. It’s the Developing Countries Farm Radio Network, sponsored by the Canadian International Development Agency, Massey Ferguson and the University of Guelph.
Through this Network we bring you information on ways to increase food supplies for your family, or to sell ways that other farmers have used successfully.
Today our subject is how to get rid of a common disease of pigs. Here’s George Atkins.
1. DCFRN Participant Inocencio Obrero, Philippines.