When I got my pigs 2 years ago, I noticed one was losing his hair, and he was rubbing against everything to scratch his skin. I looked for bugs, wounds, and dry skin. I found he didn’t have any wounds, but he did have dry skin. So I did a little research to find out why he was shedding his hair.
Why is my pig losing hair? Pigs usually lose hair because they are shedding. Pigs typically lose their hair in the spring and the fall because of the seasonal weather changes. In addition, mites, lice, and fleas can cause a pig to lose hair. Nutritional deficiencies and other health problems can also cause hair loss.
By looking at several other factors, you will be able to differentiate if your pig is losing their hair because of seasonal changes or a health threat causing hair loss. Let’s dive in.
1. Blowing Out a Coat (Seasonal Hair Shedding)
Blowing out a coat is the most common reason pigs lose their hair. It’s nature’s way of preparing pigs for a change in season. Blowing out a coat happens once or twice a year, usually in the hotter months like spring and summer. It can be very itchy for pigs to lose their hair. That’s why my bore was scratching on everything.
Blowing out a coat can cause dry, flaky skin. If you see your pig scratching on everything and it’s losing its hair with no red pimples or sores showing, your pig is likely shedding its coat, and all you need to do is help a little by petting or brushing it with a pig brush and gently removing the hair when possible.
They will grow their hair back. It should start to show tiny hairs coming back pretty quickly. Like people, when hair grows back, that can also be itchy. It is possible that when they grow their hair back, it won’t grow as thick as it was. Blowing a coat isn’t the only reason pigs lose their hair, but it is the first thing you should assume unless you see other symptoms on your pig’s body.
2. Mites Cause Hair Loss
Mites are microscopic parasites that cause sarcoptic mange in your pigs. Sarcoptic mange is also known as scabies and is the most common type of mange found in swine. The mites burrow into the skin and lay eggs. This causes skin irritation to your pig, and they will scratch and rub their hind legs and stomachs.
You will notice other signs of mites in and around your pig’s ear. This can cause your pig’s head to shake. If it’s not treated, it will spread across your pig’s body and cause sores and lesions. If you notice your pig losing its hair, small pimples like sores and lesions are on its body. Then it’s likely your pig has mites.
There are several symptoms of mites you can watch for:
- Shaking their ears
- Scratch against their pen
- Loss of hair
- Tiny red dots all over their body
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
Treatment For Mites
You can treat mites with Ivermectin, which can help battle other kinds of internal parasites as well. You can choose from injectable medicine or oral medicine mixed in with their food. Please follow the instructions on the medicine package, so you know you’re getting the doses right.
Treat your pigs every 4 to 6 months. If you rotate your pigs between pens, you will have an easier time getting rid of mites.
Regularly clean out old bedding and treat the area with bleach or permethrin diluted with water. Spray your pig house, yard, and equipment. Quarantine the infected pig. Piglets can not receive treatment until they are eight weeks old.
3. Lice: Uncomfortable and Itchy
Lice are tiny bugs that are big enough for you to see. But, they are harder to see on dark pigs. You might see the white eggs attached to the hair. If left untreated will cause your pig to scratch, get sores and lose its hair, and it can cause swine flu in your pig.
Treat lice with Ivermectin. Remove old bedding and treat the pig’s area. Quarantine the pig and treat others as well. After your piglets are weaned, you can treat them the same way.
Watch for the following symptoms to diagnose lice on your pigs:
- Visible bugs on your light-colored pigs and white eggs in the hair of black pigs
- Loss of hair
- Weight loss
Treatment For Lice
The treatment you will use is the same one for Mites. You can administer Ivermectin in two ways: orally and injectables. You can mix it in their main food or mix it with a treat they can’t resist. I use a canned pumpkin with just a half cup of milk. My pigs eat it so fast that they don’t realize any difference.
This will take care of any parasite from the inside out. Permethrin is an insecticide that you spray in your animal’s pen to keep lice and a lot of other pests away. You will need to use this every 14-21 days to keep the infestation down.
4. Fleas and Hair Loss
Your pigs can get fleas, which can also transfer to you if there is an infestation. Fleas don’t bother adult pigs too often because their skin is thick. Piglets are the most at risk. That’s because they haven’t developed their thick skin yet and will start to scratch and possibly lose their hair from excess scratching.
There are several tell-tale signs of fleas on your pigs, including:
- Loss of hair
- Weight loss
Treatment For Fleas
Permethrin is also used to combat an infestation. Remove all old bedding, spray the area down and let dry. Then sprinkle food grade Diatomaceous Earth all over the ground of their pe.
Put a kitten flea powder directly on your piglet, but your piglets have to be four weeks old. You can also add apple cider vinegar to their drinking water. Add 1 to 2 cups vinegar to 20 gallons of water. If you notice your pig not drinking the water add less vinegar.
5. Dry Skin (Remedies For Hair Loss)
If your pig has dry, cracked skin, you can apply lotion to its skin. I use aloe lotion that helps their skin and hair stay soft. It makes petting the pigs a lot nicer and feels less like petting a broom.
When you do this frequently, sometimes your pig will anticipate it by flopping over on its side. Please don’t use too much lotion because it can clog the pores. Only do this once a week. If you don’t want to use creams, there are other options for swine hair and skin conditioners.
If your pig has dry skin, you will see the following symptoms:
- Cracks or scratches
Treatment for Dry Skin
An aloe-fused lotion and other swine hair and skin products will keep your pigs skin and hair looking great. Don’t use too much lotion. You could clog your pig’s pores. You don’t want to wash your pigs with shampoo and conditioner too often for the same reason.
You can also feed your pig black oil sunflower seed, and over a month or more, you will start to see and feel a difference in their skin and hair.
6. Nutritional Diseases That Causes Hair Loss
Linoleic Acid Deficiency is an essential omega-6 fatty acid. This deficiency can cause hair loss. Plus, your pig’s skin can look dry and cracked around the neck and shoulders. This doesn’t often happen if your pig is on a conventional pig diet.
Iodine Deficiency Sows who don’t get fed with the proper Iodine intake can produce hairless piglets that are weak or even stillborns. You can find iodized salt for pigs online. I like Champions’ choice.
Niacin Deficiency Pigs will have diarrhea, weight loss, vomiting, and rough skin and hair loss. Most foods have the right amount your pig will need, but if you don’t have a feed with niacin, you might want to look into feeding brewers yeast in their food.
If you use commercial feeds, all these will be unlikely the reason for the hair loss in your pig.
Biotin Deficiency your pig’s hair and skin will look dry, and the animal’s hooves might be brittle to the point that they are breaking. You can give them one biotin supplement capsule daily or start to give your pigs food with biotin already in it. Examples are;
- Egg yolks
- Nuts and seeds
- Root vegetables
- Peas, beans, and lentils
Preventing Hair Loss Issues
I have used black oil, sunflower seed, aloe lotion, apple cider vinegar (ACV), and dichotomous earth (DE) on my pigs. I have noticed the sunflower seeds do help but take a few weeks longer to see the results.
Aloe Lotion and Aloe
I use aloe lotion three times a month on my pigs. They can’t get enough of the affection. I feel like rubbing aloe lotion on them makes a great bonding experience. Make sure to use it sparingly so you don’t block the pores. Aloe gel can be applied to the skin but don’t feed it to your pig, it won’t kill them, but it will make them sick inducing vomiting and diarrhea.
Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
Some pigs can be standoffish. If that’s the case, add black oil sunflower seeds to their diet. I usually give about a cup of black oil sunflower seeds every time I feed them.
Black sunflower seeds take longer to start working. It will take a few weeks for you to see the outcome, compared to the aloe lotion, which gives immediate relief. Black oil sunflower seeds are also high in protein and fiber for an overall good health boost.
You can also feed sunflower seeds regularly to help maintain good health.
Shampoo and Conditioner
Now bathing your pig is something you don’t want to do too often. That’s because it can damage the natural oils your pig’s skin gives out. It can also be quite an adventure. Some pigs don’t like human contact and make it a bigger hassle.
There are different kinds of shampoo and conditioner with ingredients like oatmeal which helps with dry and flaky skin to lavender which does not strip oils off your pig.
Apple Cider Vinegar
I use apple cider vinegar for every animal on our homestead. It helps with our pig’s hair and skin by making them healthier and shiny. It also helps internally. Apple cider vinegar helps regulate gut health and keep pests at a distance.
Here’s how I use it: Add 1 to 2 cups of ACV per 20 gallons of water, make sure to keep a fresh bowl of water, so they don’t dehydrate just in case they are picky about the ACV. You can also add it to their food. I usually use about a teaspoon or two daily. It helps keep the taste of AVC down, so they will more likely eat it if they’re a picky pig.
Daily brushing helps keep down your pig’s skin flakiness. It cleans their pores which will help with keeping the hair nice healthy. While you brush, watch for other pest or skin issues. Brushing will help identify if your pig has lice or mites along the ears.
A Balanced diet
Feeding your pigs a balanced diet will help keep most of these things in check. If you aren’t sure how to mix one, use quality commercial food. I use Mazuri Mini Pig feed for our pigs’ food and mix it with kitchen scraps and some milk to make a tasty slop for them.
Always check your pig’s feed ingredients to ensure it has the right supplements. If you make your feed, make sure to add the missing supplements.
Diatomaceous Earth is a natural way to treat mites and lice. If you use Diatomaceous Earth, be careful because it can cause respiratory infections if used wrong. Make sure to get Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth.
DE is a fine dust made up of fossilized diatoms, which is gently abrasive and absorbent, so it won’t be effective if wet. The powder is soft for us, kind of like corn starch. But, it’s sharp enough to cut the bug’s exoskeleton. They will get cut up when they walk across it. The process dehydrates them and will kill them.
Apply DE where your pigs sleep and reside to keep bugs down. You can also add it to their food. Use about 2% of the feed’s weight or 2lbs for every 100 lbs of feed. It helps keep hair and hoofs and helps with their immune and digestive systems. You will want to accompany this with a chemical dewormer (Ivermectin) to help with the roundworms because even though DE helps a lot, roundworms are not affected by DE.
Good Pig Husbandry
With any animal husbandry, you want to interact with your pig as much as possible to get their trust. Keep an eye on their living space and well-being. This is the best way to eliminate any issues before having a vast infestation or life-threatening situation on your hands.
Make sure to clean their pen out and give them fresh bedding to keep any bugs at a minimum, and have yourself a deep clean routine where you clean everything out and spray with Permethrin and dusting with DE.
If you can move their pen to a new area that you have already treated, moving your pigs from pen to pen or having pasture-raised pigs will help keep the bugs at a minimum.
Now that you can determine if your pig is going through a seasonal shed or something more serious might occur. If you keep up with proper nutrition and good animal husbandry, then most of these things can be prevented or taken care of without a vet’s visit. If you feel like it could be something serious, there is no harm in calling your local vet.
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