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 may suffer from hair loss or alopecia once they have a disease, a disorder, or shedding. Pigs typically lose their hair in the spring and the fall because of 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 pig 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.
Pig Hair Loss: Is it normal for pigs to lose hair?
It’s normal for pigs to lose hair, especially during the pig’s seasonal shedding. During shedding, pigs will lose hair along their back and belly. But, some medical conditions may cause pigs to lose hair past seasonal shedding and in an unusual pattern. Nonseasonal loss of hair in pigs is called alopecia.
Alopecia in pigs is caused by a series of medical conditions due to dietary intake, environmental stressors, infections, hormonal imbalance, medications or parasites. Pigs can lose hair due to allergies and poor nutrition.
Environmental stressors, such as extreme temperatures, overcrowding, or poor ventilation, lead to pig hair loss by triggering the release of hormones that affect the pig’s metabolism.
Overcrowding causes stress, thereby leading to an increase in the release of cortisol, which can cause the pig’s metabolism to speed up and the pig’s hair to fall out. Extreme temperatures also cause the pig’s body to go into a state of stress, increasing the release of hormones that can affect hair growth.
Poor ventilation leads to an accumulation of toxins in the air that can lead to hair loss in pigs. Hormonal imbalances, such as a thyroid or adrenal gland disorder, can also lead to alopecia in pigs.
An overactive thyroid can cause the body to produce too much of the hormone thyroxine, which can cause excessive hair loss, while an imbalance of adrenal hormones can lead to alopecia in pigs due to the body’s inability to produce enough of the steroid hormones that are responsible for hair growth.
Medications, such as antibiotics like tetracyclines and cephalosporins, can also contribute to pig’s hair loss as some of these can reduce the pig body’s natural ability to produce hair.
In severe cases where you notice your pig losing hair way more than usual, and you try the treatment method below, but the pig hair loss still persists, it is advisable you take your pig to the Vet, or invite the Vet over for a full examination and diagnosis.
Are All Pigs Hairless?
Not all pigs are hairless. Most pigs have either short bristly hair or long, coarse hair. Pig breeds like The Mexican Creole hairless pig and the Casertana pig are naturally hairless, while the Vietnamese Potbellied pig has sparse hair. The Mangalica pig, also known as “the pig sheep,” is quite hairy and has a wooly coat just like a sheep.
Some “almost hairless” domestic pigs we raise on our farms often look like they’re completely hairless, unlike the wild boars.
Mini pig, Potbelly pig, and Kunekune pig lose their hair once a year in a phase known as blow-out, but with time, the hair grows back again. During the blow-out phase, the pig may feel more itchy and uncomfortable than normal; therefore, it is important to provide extra bedding, like straw, to help keep the pig comfortable and minimize skin irritation.
What Causes Loss of Hair in Pigs?
Hair loss in pigs is caused by a variety of things, including stress, poor nutrition, parasites, fungal infections, allergies, and skin conditions. When your pig’s diet lacks zinc and iron, or your pig is suffering from lice or flea infestation, it puts it at a high risk of hair loss.
Stress causes hair loss due to the release of hormones that restrict blood flow to the pig’s scalp, thus resulting in the pig’s hair loss.
Poor nutrition: A pig’s diet lacking in essential minerals, such as zinc and iron can cause hair loss. Feeding your pigs a moderate amount of cooked or roasted full-fat soybean( not raw soybean because it contains anti-growth factors) mixed with edamame from time to time can help provide a natural source of iron and protein for your pig and prevent hair loss.
Parasites, such as fleas, lice and mange mites, may cause pig hair loss and itching due to their feeding and burrowing activities. Fleas, lice and mange mites all feed on the pig’s blood, causing skin irritation and inflammation. This inflammation causes the pig to scratch and rub its skin, leading to hair loss. In the case of mange mites, they will burrow into the skin, damaging it and causing further irritation. This can cause further hair loss and itching.
Fungal infections like ringworm may result in patchy pig hair loss and scaly skin. This occurs when the infection spreads to the pig’s hair follicles and the skin, leading to inflammation and irritation. Then the hair in the affected area becomes brittle and starts to break off.
The pig’s skin may become scaly due to the inflammation and may also become itchy and red. If not treated, the condition can become worse and may lead to permanent hair loss. Treatment involves antifungal medications containing enilconazole and antifungal cream and shampoo. .
Allergies resulting from your pig’s reaction to lice and flea bites can also cause hair loss.
Zinc Deficiency in Pigs May Result in Hair Loss
Zinc is an essential mineral that plays an important role in the health of hair follicles. Zinc deficiency can cause a variety of skin problems, including hair loss. This is because Zinc is necessary for the production of collagen and keratin, which are proteins responsible for healthy skin and hair.
Furthermore, zinc helps to maintain the normal structure of hair strands and helps to prevent breakage. A lack of zinc can lead to weakened hair follicles and increased shedding, ultimately leading to hair loss.
Blowing Coat (Seasonal Hair Shedding) Causes Pig Bald Spots
Blowing out a coat is the most common reason pigs lose their hair and cause bald spots. 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.
Mites Infection May Result in Pig Losing Hair on its Back
Mites are microscopic parasites that cause sarcoptic mange in your pigs. Sarcoptic mange, also known as scabies, 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 also help battle other kinds of internal parasites. 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.
Hairless Piglets Can Be Caused by Lice Infection
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 you spray in your animal’s pen to keep lice and many other pests away. You will need to use this every 14-21 days to keep the infestation down.
Fleas Result in Pig 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 kitten flea powder on your piglet, but your piglets must 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.
Pig Dry Skin and Hair Loss Treatments
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; over a month or more, you will start to see and feel a difference in their skin and hair.
Biotin Deficiency in Pigs & Other Diseases Causing Hair Loss
Biotin Deficiency will cause your pig’s hair and skin to 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
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.
Will my pig’s hair grow back?
Your pig’s hair will grow back after seasonal hair loss, mostly during the summer to allow for the growth of a new, healthy haircoat,) and where the appropriate treatment is given, either for malnutrition or parasites. The cases where your pigs hair may not grow back are in extreme cases of alopecia or when you don’t administer appropriate treatment.
How long does it take for pig hair to grow?
A pig’s hair takes 2-3 months to grow back after shedding. Mini pigs’ hair grows much faster when they lose hair from a natural blowout, usually regaining hair within 10 days to a month. Kunekune pigs have long hair that grows faster and better than potbelly pigs.
Pig hair loss treatment
I understand that anxious feeling of whether your pig’s hair loss will be temporary or permanent. These treatment methods below have proved effective in growing back the hair of my pigs that suffered hair loss.
I have used black oil, sunflowers 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, and 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 picky pig.
Daily brushing helps keep down your pig’s skin flakiness. It cleans their pores which will help with keeping the hair nice and healthy. While you brush, watch for other pests 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 dust with DE.
If you can move their pen to a new area you have already treated, moving your pigs from pen to pen or having pasture-raised pigs will help keep the bugs at a minimum.
Pig hair loss FAQs
Do pink pigs have hair? Pink pigs have hair. The pink pig’s white hair may not be visible above the pig’s skin, thereby making the pig look hairless. The pink domestic pig’s hair color is white but very little across the pig’s skin, leading us to believe that the pig is hairless or bald.
Do pigs lose hair in summer? Pigs lose hair in the summer. Pig breeds like Kunekune pigs and Mini pigs lose hair in the summer. It is more of a seasonal change to help them shed their old hair coat and grow new ones. The new coats help to keep your pigs healthy. Mini pigs mostly blow their coat between spring and summer.
Do pigs need haircuts? Pigs don’t “need” haircuts, but regularly grooming your pig will help it to bond with you. Show pigs often receive a hair cut and are clipped before a show so that they look their best. Grooming, including brushing and clipping, help your pig to bond with you.
The haircuts also serve as a means to groom your pig’s bristles(hair) It is advisable you brush your pig’s skin before the haircut to remove some of its lose hair and dead dry skin.
Do mini pigs need haircuts? Mini pigs do not need haircuts, but brushing and clipping their hair can help them to have healthier skin and exfoliate old skin. Haircuts can sharpen a mini pig’s look. Grooming your mini pig helps to increase bonding..
Now that you can determine if your pig is going through a seasonal shed or if 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.
My Most Used Pig Supplies
This list contains affiliate products. Affiliate products do not cost more but helps to support BestFarmAnimals and our goal to provide farm animal owners with accurate and helpful information.
A pig blanket to keep her warm. This one also has bright colors and helps to provide rooting without the destruction.
A large crate for keeping her safe in your house at night and when you leave the house. This is essential. You’ll also want a litterbox, and I like mine with a lid for nighttime. Pine shavings are best, and you may be able to find them in larger quantities locally.
You’ll also want an outdoor house to keep her warm when she gets outside time, an essential part of her development.
Dewormer- Ivermectin is the primary dewormer I use, although I do rotate with a non-ivermect ingredient once so that the worms don’t get immune to it.