I checked her over as she was eating, discovering she was slightly tender around the knee joint. There was no obvious inflammation so I left her to eat and made a mental note to check again this morning.
The limp was much more obvious when I went out to feed the pigs today. A fresh examination revealed noticeable soft swelling around the joint, which felt very hot and was much more tender than it was yesterday.
It was clear Delilah had an infection in the joint. I went back to the house shed to get a scalpel and clean water, then fetched more feed from the shed.
I gave Delilah the extra feed then, while she was munching contentedly, I slid a hand up and down her leg a few times. Once she was used to the feeling, I carefully incised the swelling and squeezed it.
A large amount of puss oozed from the incision. Delilah flinched a couple of times as I squeezed, but wasn’t overly bothered and continued eating.
I flushed the incision with water, then went back to the house to prepare stage two of her treatment: an injection of antibiotics.
Injecting younger pigs is usually straightforward as they have thinner skin and a more shallow layer of fat, which means I can use shorter needles with a small diameter.The pigs barely notice they’re being injected and rarely require restraint, especially if they’re eating.
Mature pigs such as Delilah, with very thick skins and deep layers of fat, require the use of fairly substantial needles that the pigs definitely notice and don’t like.
On top of that, a 225kg sow needs to be injected with a large dose of antibiotics. It’s too much to be injected in one site, so the prescribed dosage needs to be divided into two or three injections given at different sites.
For that reason, I prefer to use Ultrapen, a long-acting penicillin that requires a single dose to cover three days. Other antibiotics, such as Pen & Strep, need to be administered once a day for three days. By day three, even the most placid pig has had enough and resists.
In Delilah’s case, she needed 15ml of Ultrapen (1ml for every 15kg of body weight) that had to be administered with three 5ml injections.
I thought I’d try the injection while feeding routine but as I walked through the gate into her pen, she spotted the syringe, squealed and fled.
Over to Plan B: I’d pop a rope twitch over her upper snout, the Other Half would apply tension, Delilah would stand still and I’d do the injections.
Simple in theory, rather more complicated in practice.
After a few initial attempts to get the twitch on Delilah failed, she slunk into her hut and laid down with her feet into the wall. There was no way I could safely inject her in those circumstances and she knew it.
What Delilah didn’t count on was the OH and I standing the hut on end so we could get to her.
Fortunately, that was the point at which Delilah conceded defeat and decided I could treat her after all. I managed to get the twitch on, the OH took up the tension and Delilah stood still.
As I gave her each 5ml shot, Delilah squealed indignantly and rippled her ears but otherwise accepted the treatment.
The OH removed the twitch then I asked Delilah if we were still on speaking terms. She decided we were, especially when I agreed to give her an ear scratch and a belly rub.
Delilah was still limping when I checked her just before dark this evening but the limp was no worse than it was this morning. Ultrapen is usually quite effective for treating joint infections so I’ll be looking for signs of improvement tomorrow evening or on Wednesday morning.
Fingers crossed, I won’t have to give Delilah another dose on Thursday.
The crofting life is always interesting.
- The Blackface (kilchoan.blogspot.com)
- Norwegian Submarine in Town (homeschoolonthecroft.com)
- Come and see where we live (wondering-wanderers.blogspot.com)