mastitis in gilts and sows
Mastitis is the inflammation of the mammary glands. It is one of the major causes of failure to lactate and sow not letting its piglets suckle .
It is a common condition that occurs sporadically in individual sows or sometimes as herd outbreaks.
Mastitis in sows is caused by ascending infection of the teats by bacteria. The organism most commonly involved is Escherichia coli or other coliforms.
Predisposing factors
Traumatic injury resulting from unclipped piglet teeth, sawdust bedding, or poor quality flooring predisposes to infection.
Poor farrowing pen hygiene, bad drainage.
A warm temperature for the organisms to multiply and a wet pitted farrowing floor.
Build up of faeces in the sow’s pen and contaminated drinking water.
Infection enters via the teat canal following teat contamination and bacteria multiply in the gland.
Occasionally mastitis will arise from a blood borne infection associated with the farrowing process.
Acute and severe mastitis caused by Klebsiella spp. may occur following trauma to the teats caused by rough sawdust bedding.
One or both glands supplying a single teat may be affected.
Bacteria such as Arcanobacterium pyogenes , streptococci and staphylococci may cause infections of single glands.
Mastitis will recur in successive batches of animals after farrowing if the environmental factors are not well managed.
Clinical Signs
Acute Mastitis
Fever, loss of appetite and depression are observed.
The udder is usually swollen and oedematous and congested.
In severe cases, lactation may cease completely
The sow may be restless as a result of the pain in the udder during suckling. This will make the piglets not to thrive well. The litter will appear malnourished.
Acute mastitis usually occurs within 1-3 days of farrowing.
The affected animal may become recumbent and unable to rise and respiratory distress sets in and frequently leads to death.
Acute mastitis is easily recognisable as affected sows are off their feed and have obvious swelling of the udder, sometimes with reddening and oedema.
Sub acute mastitis
This type is most times not noticed by the farmer. But the piglets usually look malnourished.
Usually it is noticed when the affected teat fails to return to normal size after weaning.
Individual affected glands feel firm and hot When touched or palpated.

Prevention and Treatment
Severely affected sows may need rehydration with hypertonic saline .
Anti-inflammatory drugs are also recommended as supportive treatment .
In sub acute mastitis, rehydration is not necessary.
Organisms that cause mastitis are sensitive to neomycin, tetracyclines, ampicillin, amoxicillin, streptomycin, fluoroquinolone (all injections)
Oxytocin should be given to aid lactation.
Control depends upon early diagnosis and treatment, hygiene, use of soft bedding other than sawdust, clipping piglets’ teeth and culling of severely affected sows.

Acute mastitis is not a disease to be handled by an inexperienced farmer. Always work with your local veterinarian to keep your livestock and investment protected.