Pork production: How to recognise and treat mange in pigs

Mange is caused by a mite, Sarcoptes scabiei, that lives in tunnels in the pig’s skin. It feeds on skin cells as it tunnels into the pig’s epidermis.

Adult mites burrow into the skin and lay eggs, and develop through stages from larvae to nymphs and adults.
Pigs are infected through close contact; mites are often transmitted from the boar to the sow during mating and from the sow to the piglets after birth.

There may be mites anywhere on the pig’s body, but the ear is usually the most heavily infected area. Although they spend all their lives on pigs, mites can survive for a short while (up to 12 days) in the wider environment.


The condition of the animals often deteriorates, and there are obvious signs of skin irritation. Itching and lesions are present, indicating hypersensitivity.

The infected pig will rub itself against the side of the pen, on the drinking nipples and feeders.

The skin is usually red and inflamed and there may be crusts and bare patches where the hair has been rubbed away. Crusts are often seen in the ear.

A microscopic exam is required to positively identify mites; but scrapings can be taken from inside the ear with a teaspoon and spread out on a piece of black paper. You should just be able to see the mites with the naked eye.


Many products are registered for use against mites in pigs, including dips, sprays, injectables and in-feed products, which should be used according to the instructions. There is also an oily liquid (containing 20% phosmet) which is applied down the back of the pig and absorbed through the skin.

If the entire drove is infected, all the pigs must be treated.

The pigsties must also be treated to kill any mites that lurking about. You will get better control if the pigs are treated again nine to 14 days after the first treatment.

Control can usually be maintained by treating only the breeding pigs. The boars should be treated every three to six months and sows should be treated about a week before farrowing.

Injectables and in-feed medications are other possible methods of mite control.

For information and pictures of mange, go to:

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