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my three pigs have eye infections -- should I try penicillin?

 
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So 3 of the pigs have eye infections. The 3 that are together so apparently it's contagious. I have a spray I've been using. Should I give a shot of penicillin as well?
 
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Do you have access to a vet?  Penicillin is pretty broad spectrum - it catches most things but misses others.  

If you can get a vet to diagnose the specific reason why the eyes are infected - bacteria, viral, fungal, or environmental (antibiotics only works on one of those causes) - then you can target the drugs to the ailment and use fewer drugs.  

If you don't have a vet - have a look for environmental triggers before using a drug they can develop a resistance to.  I feel that there are times we need to use these powerful drugs to heal the animal, but I I also know we have some serious drug resistance in my area thanks to the overuse of these drugs - so much so that the government has made it impossible to access these life saving veterinary meds.  
 
elle sagenev
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r ranson wrote:Do you have access to a vet?  Penicillin is pretty broad spectrum - it catches most things but misses others.  

If you can get a vet to diagnose the specific reason why the eyes are infected - bacteria, viral, fungal, or environmental (antibiotics only works on one of those causes) - then you can target the drugs to the ailment and use fewer drugs.  

If you don't have a vet - have a look for environmental triggers before using a drug they can develop a resistance to.  I feel that there are times we need to use these powerful drugs to heal the animal, but I I also know we have some serious drug resistance in my area thanks to the overuse of these drugs - so much so that the government has made it impossible to access these life saving veterinary meds.  



I could take them to the vet but I'm not sure that it is financially worth it to do so. If we can't cure it, we'll just eat them. That's the plan anyway. I can get penicillin at the feed store here though and could give them each a single shot to see if it helps. If you don't think it's worth it I will just keep doing the spray.
 
r ranson
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If there is a chance you might eat them as a result of the illness - please be very careful about drug withdrawal time. Even vitamin shots stay in the meat for over a week (and taste terrible - that was Christmas Dinner Ruined!).

Can your vet do a phone consult?  There might be something going round the farms and he/she might recognize the symptoms.

The feed store might also know about the type of infection and which specific treatments work.

Failing that, a mentor - maybe the person you bought the pigs from?

Drugs are useful.  But the wrong drugs can cause a lot of long term problems on the farm.  
 
elle sagenev
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I know a neighbor of ours with sheep has eye infections as well. They were giving theirs penicillin and the same eye spray I was using.

Definitely don't want to eat meat with penicillin still in it. The bottle says the withdrawal time of it. We'll respect that for sure.

I hear you! If you think I can get the infection cleared out without the shot I'll certainly do it that way. Giving pigs shots is hard anyway.
 
r ranson
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I know a neighbor of ours with sheep has eye infections as well. They were giving theirs penicillin and the same eye spray I was using.  



Do they know what caused it?  Sheep and pigs are about as different as alpacas and humans.  I don't know of many ailments they share.   Most non-threatening infections go away on their own, so did they do some with the treatment and some without to see if the treatment actually made any difference to the infection time?

Definitely don't want to eat meat with penicillin still in it. The bottle says the withdrawal time of it. We'll respect that for sure.  



I add two weeks to what's on the bottle.  I find that some of the meds effect the taste of the meat beyond the official withdrawal time.

Pencillian may be the way to go.  But you're asking on a permaculture website.  Our answer is going to be "do what is most sustainable long term" which involves not developing medicine resistance.  

Using a medicine without knowing what the specific problem is, at best is a waste of money.  At medium, it means you build up a resistance to that drug for all animals (I include humans here) and you loose a powerful tool for keeping your livestock healthy.  At worse... I'm not talking about this online.  But it very, very bad and I've seen a few farmers loose their farm and worse.  Because of this, I always want to know the cause of the infection prior to treating with anything other than vitamins and minerals.  If it is Bacterial AND you have no expert to turn to for help, then pencillian is a starting place.  But it's only a one in four chance it is bacterial and there is a very high chance that the infection is resistant to broad-spectrum antibiotics.  

Can you show us some photos of the ailment?  Maybe someone here can can confirm it has a bacterial cause.  
 
elle sagenev
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I thought mine might have been caused by cheat grass seeds. I did take a seed out of one of their eyes. However I can't confirm that. They just have green puss around their eyes. Since it's the 3 pigs that I've left together I'd also say it's something contagious. The other 7 pigs don't have it.
 
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Another thought; sometimes eyes can goop up and get mucus-y from dietary intake.  If a food is not agreeing with the body.   I've observed this in both animals and myself.  The most common reason I personally see eye goobers is crappy food intake.  Second most common reason I used to see it, back when I was in agricultural/orchard country, was chemical spraying; mosquito spray, crop dusting, and also my neighbors liked to burn their plastic in a burn barrel.  Me and all the animals would have gummy eyes and be coughing the next day when they burned.  The goats would get gunky ears, too, and the chickens would have runny noses and be coughing. It was poisonous!  Gr!  Anyway.  I suspect the "crappy food" factor is relative to the chemicals in/on the food; what's used to grow it, harvest it, process it, and preserve it, if applicable.  

IMO, goopy eyes don't automatically = infection.  Mucus is the body's way of wrapping a contaminant up in a safe package and expelling it from the body.  Could be chemical, physical (seed, etc), bacterial, etc etc.
 
elle sagenev
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Jen Fan wrote:Another thought; sometimes eyes can goop up and get mucus-y from dietary intake.  If a food is not agreeing with the body.   I've observed this in both animals and myself.  The most common reason I personally see eye goobers is crappy food intake.  Second most common reason I used to see it, back when I was in agricultural/orchard country, was chemical spraying; mosquito spray, crop dusting, and also my neighbors liked to burn their plastic in a burn barrel.  Me and all the animals would have gummy eyes and be coughing the next day when they burned.  The goats would get gunky ears, too, and the chickens would have runny noses and be coughing. It was poisonous!  Gr!  Anyway.  I suspect the "crappy food" factor is relative to the chemicals in/on the food; what's used to grow it, harvest it, process it, and preserve it, if applicable.  

IMO, goopy eyes don't automatically = infection.  Mucus is the body's way of wrapping a contaminant up in a safe package and expelling it from the body.  Could be chemical, physical (seed, etc), bacterial, etc etc.



Ouch. I can't imagine being in contact with that much poison in the air. I gotta say, blessed here. Surrounded by organic wheat. No one sprays. We just got new neighbors to the west of us, the wind blows from west to east here. He did tell me he sprayed a broad leaf herbicide recently. I about died. My husband said I looked stricken. He just did it along the road, which is as far from our property as you can get. Hopefully he'll stop that. If he kills my sainfoin field or my alfalfa field I'll have a conniption!

Anyway, I've had them locked up and I've been spraying them with vetricyn pink eye spray. One of them I thought might lose an eye. It was so gunky and swollen closed. She's recovered though. I'm not sure if it was that they actually had pink eye or if it's the fact this spray is mostly water so I've been essentially rinsing their eyes our multiple times a day. Either way all the eye infections are gone but I've still not let them out. I've become fairly certain it's the grass seeds. THe oldest piglet fits through the gate and goes out to eat and when it comes back I have to pick seeds from it's eyes and spray it.
 
r ranson
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I'm very glad they are doing better.

Did you try a control group?  Treating some with saline instead of the meds?  I find when I do this for eye problems, my control group heals days earlier than the medicated one - that's even with targeted meds (aka, a full diagnosis and meds to treat the specific problem).

Something I see time and again in our area.  Farmers treat with meds without a diagnosis.  I've seen farmers treat for pinkeye when it's not pinkeye.  Then they get pinkeye and their flock/herd has built up a resistance to the meds that there is no treatment.  They end up having to cull a great number of animals due to drug resistance.  In the end, the government got so fed up with this that they restricted access to almost all vetrinary drugs, supplements, pariacite control, everything!  We can no longer access life-saving animal medication where I live.

This is why I'm such a strong advocate for getting a diagnosis before treating with strong drugs.  

 
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I put two drops of LA 200 in their eyes for Pink Eye. One dose typically cures it.

One thing to keep in mind about medications: even under Organic Standards, a farmer/homesteader IS REQUIRED to treat an animal with antibiotic if needed.
 
elle sagenev
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r ranson wrote:I'm very glad they are doing better.

Did you try a control group?  Treating some with saline instead of the meds?  I find when I do this for eye problems, my control group heals days earlier than the medicated one - that's even with targeted meds (aka, a full diagnosis and meds to treat the specific problem).

Something I see time and again in our area.  Farmers treat with meds without a diagnosis.  I've seen farmers treat for pinkeye when it's not pinkeye.  Then they get pinkeye and their flock/herd has built up a resistance to the meds that there is no treatment.  They end up having to cull a great number of animals due to drug resistance.  In the end, the government got so fed up with this that they restricted access to almost all vetrinary drugs, supplements, pariacite control, everything!  We can no longer access life-saving animal medication where I live.

This is why I'm such a strong advocate for getting a diagnosis before treating with strong drugs.  



I hear you. I do not frequently give my animals anything. I probably would not have thought about the shot but I did have it on hand from a previous animal and the sheep farmers I know told me to.
 
r ranson
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Travis Johnson wrote:

One thing to keep in mind about medications: even under Organic Standards, a farmer/homesteader IS REQUIRED to treat an animal with antibiotic if needed.



I agree with you one hundred per cent.  

That's why it's so vital to know what caused the symptoms.  If it's a bacterial infection then knowing which infection will help one know which antibiotics to use and which won't work.

If it's not caused by bacteria, then using antibiotics is a waste of money and can cause long term harm to the farm (emphasis on 'can cause').  It can also lead to the government paying attention to small farmers and make laws where we can no longer access the medicine we need.

When I had a vet, I used to get them to teach me how they diagnosed the issue.  Sometimes it's lab work, other time's it by symptoms and knowing what is going around the local area.  

 
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