vulval and ear biting

Pig vice behavior and how to mitigate it.

Pig vice behavior and how to mitigate it. 720 490 Sefa

Vices in pigs refers to a group of abnormal behaviors in pigs including biting, chewing and sucking of the vulva, tail, ears, flanks and navels, usually as a result of stress. The sows will tend to bite vulva especially during the late stages of pregnancy and it can be a major problem in loosely housed sows and poorly managed housing systems, which may end up in the loss of lives of valuable sows and piglets.


  • High stocking densities in pens / Overcrowding
  • Genetic predispositions (some breeds of pigs are more aggressive than others)
  • Poorly nourished (under-fed) pigs
  • Poor housing structures (narrow and thin pens)
  • Inadequate drinkers and feed distributors
  • Swollen vulva. The vulva is a highly vascularized tissue. The swollen vulva attracts more attacks and bites from the pigs especially if it is big which worsens the condition
  • Harsh weather conditions such as cold weathers

Clinical signs

  • Lacerations or cuts with blood on the skin and nose
  • Blood stains within the yard or pen
  • Mild to severe bleeding with damage to the vulva
  • Death
  • Scarred tissues at the vulval region which affects farrowing (still births, tearing of the vulva)


  • Increase the feed intake (particularly for underfed pigs)
  • Make available enough feeders and drinkers to avoid bullying and aggression. Feeders and drinkers should be evenly spaced
  • Maintain sizeable or small numbers of sows in a pen
  • Remove the offending sow(s) in the pen
  • Structure of pens should be wide and not narrow and long
  • Increase the salt levels to 0.9% per ton
  • Pregnant sows should be moved to a new pen with more floor area


Affected sows should be quickly isolated and kept in a separate pen.

Contact your Vet for assistance.

The sow’s condition will be assessed by a vet and given medications as well as possibly prepare her for surgery.