How to administer iron for piglets

Administering an iron supplement to your piglets is simple – just follow our guidelines

For an iron treatment to be effective, it needs to be administered properly. The below guidelines contain a few important considerations that will make treating your entire herd safe and simple.

Choosing the best iron supplement

There are a number of ways to administer iron for piglets. Iron injections offer more value and are preferred over oral iron supplements because an injection ensures each piglet gets the exact iron dose it needs. Oral supplementation depends on the amount of food or water the piglet consumes - or does not consume - and therefore carries a risk of the piglet receiving either too little or too much iron.

Choosing the right strength

It is recommended best practice to give your piglets a full 200 mg dose in a 1 ml iron supplement injection. This means you only need to give your piglet one dose, which saves you time and minimizes the risk of leakage observed with 2 ml injections. And minimizing leakage ensures no iron is wasted - and each piglet gets the full dose of iron it needs to grow and be healthy.

The injection site

There are a number of possible injection sites on a piglet, but it is normally recommended to administer an iron injection in one of the following places:

  1. Behind the ear
  2. In the hind limb/ham muscle*
  3. In the inguinal fold

* This is not recommended by some veterinarians due to potential risk of damaging the ham

There are two ways to injection iron: intramuscularly (im) or subcutaneously (sc or sq).

  • Intramuscular injections are given deep into the muscle with a relatively long needle - up to 20 mm.
  • Subcutaneous injections are given just under the skin with a shorter needle, normally 10 mm.

Please note there recommended injection site can vary by countryare national variations of recommended injection site. Consult your veterinarian for advice.

Proper hygiene

To keep your piglets safe, check that the injection site is clean and dry before administering iron. If the piglet's skin is dirty or wet, the injection site should be wiped clean and dry before injection

Convenience of collapsible plastic vials

First, collapsible plastic vials are much lighter than glass vials, something that users appreciate after numerous injections in one day. Second, the vials gradually collapse when the iron supplement is injected. This prevents air - and the bacteria in it - from being sucked into the iron solution. As a result, you know that your piglets will never be exposed to a bacteria-contaminated iron solution. Finally, plastic vials are non-breakable, so they won't shatter when dropped on the floor.

Disposable syringes and needles

Disposable automatic syringes and needles are the best option for administering iron to your herd. These typically come ready to use in sterile packages, and you can discard them after one or multiple uses. If a syringe is used more than once, it must be thoroughly rinsed in hot water after each use. Disposable needles should be changed after each litter, or every 10 treatments.

The right needles

Needles can sometimes break off in the injection site. So we recommend using traceable needles. This ensures that the pieces of metal will be detected at the slaughterhouse - before the meat reaches the consumer.

We also recommend you use a 0.9 x 9-13 mm (20 GA x 3/8-1/2") needle for newborn piglets.


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