Hypoglycaemia is a metabolic condition of newborn piglets that develops in first few days of life due to decreased caloric intake and increased catabolism.
Aetiology: Inadequate intake of milk by newborn piglets and diseases associated with enteropathy contribute to onset of hypoglycaemia. Neonatal factors such as weakness, prepartum asphyxia, or competition amongst siblings or maternal factors such as agalactia, mastitis or maternal rejection can be associated with poor nursing and hypoglycaemia. Under fasting conditions, newborn piglets below 4 days of age develop hypoglycaemia more rapidly than the older piglets. Secondary hypoglycaemia may be associated with diseases like coliform septicaemia, transmissible gastro- enteritis, streptococcal infection and haemolytic diseases of newborn.Hypoglycaemia may also occur in new born calves, foals, kids and lambs. In calves the condition may be associated with diarrhoea and due to non-availability of milk.Septicaemia with loss of nursing vigour is the most common cause of hypoglycaemia in foals. Undersized twin or triplet lambs are more likely to develop hypoglycaemia under extreme cold condition or state of hypothermia.
Clinical findings: Piglets under one week of age present typical signs of disease characterized by incoordination, shivering, dullness, and anorexia, subnormal temperature, cold clammy skin and pallor and ruffling hair. There is progressive weakness and convulsion followed by recumbency, coma and death within 24-36 hours. Clinical signs in other species are similar to those observed in piglets. However, nervous signs are most common in piglets than other species.
Diagnosis: Hypoglycaemia should be differentiated from diseases like coliform septicaemia, encephalomyelitis and pseudorabies, bacterial maningio-encephatitis in piglets; watery mouth disease in lambs and septicaemias in foals. Blood glucose concentration < 50 mg/dl in piglets and <40 mg/dl in calves is suggestive of hypoglycaemia.
Treatment and Prevention: Intraperitoneal administration of 15 ml of 20% glucose at 4-6 hourly interval and provision of warm environment are effective in treatment of hypoglycaemia. Administration of colostrum alongwith 20 ml of 5% glucose intragastrically and induced milk let down in sows help in preventing mortality. Hypoglycaemic lambs can be given 20% glucose solution intraperitoneally @ of 10 ml/kg body weight.Avoidance of causative factors, proper nursing of piglets during first week of their age and provision of warm environment (35°C) can prevent occurrence of the disease. Lambs and kids should be fed adequate colostrum (200 ml/kg body weight).