Pig Lice: Is Your Swine Herd Lousy? Parasite Control


Pig louse is a cause of severe itchiness in pigs DLX1

Haematopinus suis (the pig lice) is another culprit of severe itchiness and scratching in pigs. These pesky parasites hide amongst the hairs on your pig’s skin. The louse is yellowish-brown and usually found in the fat folds around your pig’s neck, inside (and outside) their ears, legs, and flanks.

Each louse feeds off your pig and has mouth parts designed for piercing and sucking on the pig’s skin. Once the louse has fed, they develop a bluish coloring. In severe infestations, the lice can be found all over the body feeding on your pig, and the skin develops lesions from the continuous scratching and rubbing against fences, etc.

If you look closely at your pig’s skin, you’ll notice the eggs, which appear as yellow, crusty patches on the bristles of your pig’s hair. The eggs will hatch after 12 days, and the lice will be fully developed between 29 to 33 days.

Did you know: that the louse can also be a vector for the swine pox virus? So it’s vital to treat the infestation and avoid further infection.

Symptoms of Lice in Pigs

Your pig has lice if instead of biting at scratchy areas, it is  restless and is continuously rubbing and scratching themselves against objects.Your pig will display other common symptoms, such as anemia, sudden weight loss, and depression. 

Pay close attention to your pigs’ ears as the lice gather in the ears’ pinna to feed, which causes ulceration. 

  • Restlessness
  • Depression
  • Continuous scratching and rubbing against objects
  • Anemia 
  • Weight loss
  • Ulceration inside the pinna of the ears 
  • Allergy-like reactions from the lice

Treatment for Pig Lice

The only way to stop the itching is to treat and control the lice infestation urgently. This can be effectively done by applying lice treatment to your pig’s skin through injections, in their feed, or spray or pour-on solutions.

The treatment must be administered twice, within 10 to 14 days, to successfully kill off the lice, as the treatment is useless against the louse eggs. You can comb coconut oil through your pig’s bristles to remove dead lice and eggs.

  1. Apply lice treatment to your pig’s skin through injections, feed medications, and pour or spray on solutions.
  2. Two rounds of treatment must be given 10 to 14 days apart to kill off the lice, as treatments are ineffective against the louse eggs.
  3. Use coconut oil and comb through your pig’s hair and bristles to remove any dead lice and eggs. Dip the comb in hot water to remove the debris.
  4. Pay close attention to your pig’s ears (inside and out), as this is usually a hot spot for lice infestations.

References

Research Gate Published Article:

An investigation of iron deficiency and anemia in piglets and the effect of iron status at weaning on post-weaning performance

Mereks Vet Manual:

Mereks Vet manual

Talitha van Niekerk

Hi, I’m Talitha van Niekerk, and I made the leap to farm animal ownership when I decided to fulfil my lifelong passion to own horses. Now, over a decade later, I run a public stable facility on 180 acres of land, caring for over 75 horses of all breeds and sizes. I love to write about my experiences, sharing the knowledge I have gained and helping others achieve their life’s passion to live on the land. See my about page here.

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