Feed aspects of ear necrosis

The question of ear necrosis on farm is difficult. There are several causes of this problem. The main reasons are as following:

  • Housing density of animals in pen
  • Access to feed and water
  • Necrosis caused by trauma
  • Problems with ventilation system
  • Veterinarian aspects
  • Toxins contamination of the feed
  • Undersupply of iron
  • Not balanced feed

Moreover, the  causes of necrosis listed above can be significantly enhanced by hot and humid climate.

Impact of toxins on ear necrosis

In many cases the reason for ear necrosis can be the contamination of ergot in the feed (fungus, found in many kinds of grains, such as wheat and rye). The active components of this fungus can cause vasoconstriction, and necrosis of ears as a consequence.  Signs of necrosis caused by toxins in feed are coming on both ears in the same time. It is recommended to minimize impact of toxins on pigs (avoid to use contaminated grains for feed production, or include relevant toxin binders).  

Undersupply of iron

In some cases, piglets do not have enough of iron within the feed. This is leading to the low level of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is playing an important role in transportation of oxygen to all tissues. If tissues do not receive enough of oxygen with blood, tissue hypoxia (or ear necrosis) is beginning.

Usually ear necrosis is starting from the small reddish spots on the end of ears. The spots are growing fast, and shredding along the edge of the ear, as shown on the picture below.

The most effective preventive step against ear necrosis is to include of organic form of iron in the feed formulations. Additionally, all management, veterinarian and environmental factors have to be checked as well.  

March 2019, Vilomix ©