Boars in his pens

Detection of Sick Boars

Early detection and treatment of sick boars is not only important for the individual animal but is critical in maintaining the overall health and productivity of your herd.  The focus of this article is to highlight the importance of early detection.  Treatment of specific ailments or diseases should be discussed in detail with the herd veterinarian under a valid veterinarian, client, patient relationship

Daily Observation

It is crucial that time is set aside for all boars to be observed individually each day.  The purpose of daily observation is the early detection of any individual sick animals or any issues affecting the herd as a whole.  The best time to do this is during feeding.  Boars housed in crates should be observed by walking both behind the boars as well as in front of the boars.  This daily observation time should be done by an experienced herdsperson.  Specific attention should be paid to ensure that all boars can stand fully upright and are actively eating and drinking.  It is important to understand that irreversible nerve damage in the legs can occur relatively quickly if a lethargic boar is allowed to remain in a reclined position for an extended period of time.

Daily Observation
Fully upright, good motilityslow or unwilling to stand (lethargic)
Actively eating and drinkingLack of appetite
General healthy appearance and attitude Rough haircoat, depressed attitude
Normal feces (moderately firm but not hard)Loose, too firm, presence of fresh or old blood, presence of internal parasites
No coughingPersistent coughing
Easy and steady breathingRapid or labored breathing
Boars walking to the collection area

In addition to the daily walkthrough, all employees should be encouraged to keep a watchful eye on the boars throughout their workday.  When boars are being walked to and from the collection area is a good time to observe for proper mobility or issues with lameness or lethargy.  Observing the boars while mounted on the collection dummy improves the ability to notice any abrasions, abscesses or swellings that may not be as easily noticed while in their pens.

Checking Rectal Temperatures

All employees should be trained on how to properly take rectal temperatures.  It is good practice to take the rectal temperature of any boar presenting signs of ailment.  First, it creates a habit within the employees to take the health of the animals seriously.  Second, this practice builds a recorded history of body temperatures for your herd which helps to determine if a specific boar’s temperature is out of range of normal for your herd or if the herd is experiencing an acute or chronic change in body temperatures as an early sign of a more serious herd health risk.  Management should ensure that there are plenty of thermometers readily available on site. 

The normal rectal temperature of the boar is reported to be between 38-39.5°C (101.5-103.5F).  However, the normal temperature of the boar can be affected by its environment.  If unsure whether the temperature is normal, a good tip is to take the temperature of one or two boars on either side of the boar in question.  This will give you a better idea if the affected boars temperature is normal or is elevated/depressed.  


Proper and thorough documentation of the daily observations and any temperatures taken should be recorded both in the herd daily observation record and the records of individual boars.  All records should be readily available to all employees and presented to the herd veterinarian during all visits.  These records will aid in the identification of risk factors present to the herd and also in tracking the potential development of a herd wide health issue.  At a minimum the data that should be recorded includes: the date and time of the observation, Official identification of the animal, observed abnormality(s), rectal temperature.  A complete record would also include any treatments given, the duration of treatment, outcome of treatment as well as any drug withdrawal periods if applicable.

Daily observation, early detection and proper documentation is of utmost importance in maintaining the overall health of your herd.  The early detection of sick animals is in the best interest for the welfare of the animals in your care.  This applies not only to returning an individual sick animal back to good health but also to the early identification and treatment of more widespread illnesses.  Thorough documentation is critical in developing a strong and valid veterinarian, client, patient relationship to establish proper treatment protocols that will benefit the health and productivity of the entire herd.

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