Group Title: Animal husbandry mimeograph series - University of Florida Department of Animal Husbandry and Nutrition ; 57-3
Title: Should the needle teeth of baby pigs be clipped?
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 Material Information
Title: Should the needle teeth of baby pigs be clipped?
Series Title: Animal husbandry mimeograph series
Physical Description: 3 leaves : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Wallace, H. D ( Harold Dean )
Combs, G. E ( George Ernest ), 1927-
University of Florida -- Dept. of Animal Husbandry and Nutrition
Publisher: University of Florida, Dept. of Animal Husbandry and Nutrition
Place of Publication: Gainesville Fla
Publication Date: 1956
Subject: Swine -- Health -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Swine -- Growth -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Teeth -- Extraction -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Statement of Responsibility: H.D. Wallace and G.E. Combs.
General Note: Caption title.
General Note: "August, 1956."
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00072861
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 76950798

Full Text

Animal Husbandry Mimeograph
Series No. 57-3 August 1956


H. D. Wallace and G. E. Combs, Jr.1

Pigs are born with eight sharp pointed teeth, two In each lower jaw and

two in each upper jaw. These teeth are of no known value to the pig, but ex-

perience has shown that they may be quite harmful. This is particularly true

in large litters where there is keen competition for nipples. Pigs learn to use

these sharp teeth in fighting their battles. The result may be serious cutting

of one another as well as cutting and irritation of the sow's udder. The cuts

on the faces of the pigs are sites for bacterial invasions and in the south

may also present a site for screwworm infestation. The sow may react by being

less careful and content with her pigs and in extreme cases may refuse to let

them nurse.

The clipping of needle teeth has been practiced at the Florida Station for

several years and it has been a part of the management recommendations to the

swine producers of the state. However, the recommendation being made to Florida

swine producers has not been based on sound experimental evidence under Florida

conditions, but rather on general information disseminated through textbooks

and largely of Midwestern origin.. In view of the possible dangers involved in

this practice (injury to pig splintered teeth and torn tissues in mouth) and

the fact that it is a somewhat troublesome and time-consuming operation, it

seemed desirable to accumulate experimental evidence on the matter. Thus, a

test was designed to study the value of needle teeth clipping during the 1956

spring farrow at the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station Swine Unit. t

Wallace, Associate Animal Husbandman; Combs, Assistant Animal Husba.' oan,
Department of Animal Husbandry and Nutrition, University of Florida. "

Forty-six litters of pigs farrowed between January 4, 1956, and April 26,

1956, were used in the study. The sows were brought to the farrowing barn three

days before farrowing, placed in farrowing stalls on concrete floors and held

in the stalls for one week after farrowing. Maximum sanitation was attained

by scrubbing the sow with soap and water as she entered the farrowing area and

by steam sterilization of all farrowing stalls and feeding equipment. The

needle teeth of the pigs from alternate sows that farrowed were clipped. This

was done on the day of farrow, or if the litter was farrowed during the night,

the teeth were clipped the following morning. Pigs in both treatment groups

were ear notched and had their navel cords clipped and iodined at this time

also. After one week the sows and litters were moved to clover and alfalfa pas-

tures where the pigs had access to a creep until weaned at eight weeks of age.

Careful notations were made on all sows and litters during the course of the


Results and Discussion

Performance of the litters involved in the experiment is summarized in

Table I.

Table I

The Influence of Clipping Needle Teeth on Suckling Pig Performance

Needle Teeth Needle Teeth
Not Clipped Clipped
No. litters 24 22

Av. No. pigs farrowed per litter 9.3 9.6

Av. Birth wt., Ibs. 2.82 2.78

Av. No. pigs weaned per litter 7.42 8.04

Av. weaning wt. per pig, Ibs. 32.9 34.3

Incidence of lameness (swelling of leg joints) 7 out of 178 pigs I out of 177 pigs

The average number of pigs farrowed per litter in the two groups, which

of course was not affected by clipping the needle teeth, were very similar. The

average birth weights for the two groups were also nearly the same.

Litters which had their needle teeth clipped weaned 0.62 more pigs per

litter and the pigs averaged 1.4 pounds heavier. This is not a great difference

but it is interesting to note that the larger weaned litters from the clipped

group were also individually heavier. Normally the tendency would be Just the


The incidence of leg joint swelling and crippling (navel ill) was not high

in either group. However, one large litter (originally 17 pigs) in the unclipped

group were badly scarred from fighting and five pigs showed the lameness syn-

drome. It was obvious throughout the experiment that failure to clip the teeth

was much more disturbing to the large litters than the smaller litters. Severe

cuts were noticed on the faces of pigs in all litters not clipped. In most

cases these cuts were well healed and n6t in evidence at the end of 7 10 days.

Two sows in the unclipped group were very reluctant to permit their pigs

to nurse and considerable care and persuasion was necessary to overcome this



Based on the accumulated data and the observations made during the course

of this experiment the authors feel that the clipping of the needle teeth of new-

born pigs is a sound practice for the Florida swine producer to follow. This

conclusion is strengthened by the fact that most pigs raised in Florida are

produced under less sanitary conditions than prevailed in this experiment.

The clipping can be accomplished by the use of small one-edged cutting pliers

specifically designed.for the purpose. Great care should be exercised so as

not to injure the pig's mouth in any way. .Only the tip of the teeth should be

An. Husb.

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