Stomach ulcers

Stomach ulcers in pigs stem from the structure and composition of the pig feed. When the farmer chooses the feed, he must take into consideration both the pigs’ stomach health and the environment.

Stomach ulcers are caused by gastric acid damaging the stomach. The gastric acid is produced by glands in the stomach where the glands help to metabolise the feed. Stomach ulcers most often occur where the oesophagus end in the stomach but ulcers may also occur elsewhere in the stomach.

The structure of the feed affects the development of stomach ulcers
The structure and composition of the feed has great influence on the development of stomach ulcers. Other factors such as disease and fasting periods may also have an effect. The reasons for stomach ulcers in pigs are not fully clarified.

Take environment and stomach health considerations
If the feed has a very fine structure (finely ground), it will be easier for the pigs to absorb the nutrients of the feed but at the same time it is not good for their stomach health. If the feed has a very coarse structure (coarsely ground), it is good for their stomach health but then many nutrients will pass right through the intestines of the pig and out which is not good for the environment.

It is therefore a fine balance to find the correct grinding grade in order to consider both the environment and the stomach health of the pigs.

Screening for stomach ulcers in sows

To examine the stomach health in sows in Denmark, the industry will in 2018/2019 ask the abattoirs to select 20 random stomachs from DANISH-approved pig populations with over 200 sows.

The stomachs will be examined at SEGES’ laboratory in Kjellerup and the results of the screening will be sent to the pig populations. If more than half of the sows have stomach ulcers to a certain extent, an action plan for improvement of the stomach health must be prepared with the veterinarian of the pig population. After 2018, less than 4% of approx. 1,200 pig populations have been recommended to prepare an action plan.