Technical Bulletin
Technical Report

MMA at farrowing : Guidelines for monitoring and prevention

During walking around the farrowing units of a commercial farm, I tried to shoot a question to test the unit’s head her knowledge. “What do you think is the most important job at the farrowing ? ” I asked. She thought for a while then replied, “I don’t know how to tell but I think alls are important”. Based on her answer, I partly agree with her. I shot a new question. “What management task if we do not good enough it may affect most the productivity at farrowing ?” She simply said “I don’t know” and asked me in return.

My answer was “The management that prevented mastitis and promoted increased feed intake after farrowing is the most important thing”.

Shoulder sore : indication of low feed intake in Lactating sows

Weak piglet suckled by agalactic sow

Sow that suffer from mastitis and agalactia postpartum are likely to produce milk less than normal aspect though her feed intake is over 6 kg/day. At the same time, if a sound sow has lower feed intake at postpartum, she is also likely to produce less milk.

Now, we know what exactly important is. Let’s talk about guidelines to prevent mastitis and to promote feed intake.

Mastitis, metritis and agalactia (MMA)

What is MMA?

The first “M” is short for mastitis (inflammation of mammary glands) whereas the second one is for metritis ( inflammation of the uterus). “A” is for agalactia which means no milk production. MMA develops when sows are infected with bacteria. The bacteria can produce toxins that interfere secretions of two hormones regulating milk production and milk let down, prolactin and oxytocin.

Metritis with vaginal discharge

Non active mammary glands(small size indicating milk production problem

The occurrence of MMA in pigs in Thailand is very often especially during summer months. between March to May ,that is most found.

Pre - parturient MMA : Mammary gland enlargement ,edema and firmness

Many people misunderstand that MMA develops only in postpartum sows. Actually, it can occur from the beginning of an acclimation period just before farrowing. If routinely monitored, sows that have abnormal swelling or edema of the rear udders are likely to suffer from MMA.

MMA at prepartum is mild compared to that at postpartum, but if ignored the affected sows may develop clinical signs later. Some sows may have shown the problems since at the farrowing such as dystocia and stillbirth.

Intrusion of the pathogens
Affected sows are infected by the bacteria (both gram positive and
negative) via ;

    1. Environmental microbes
      Through teat orifices and vagina (from assisting at farrowing)
    2. Opportunistic bacteria
      With predisposing factors like stress or bad management that leads to constipation or receiving high protein diets.


Farms that have a large number of MMA sows detected will likely to face the following problems

    1. Lower ability in disease resistance in newborns due to the lack of immunoglobulins and colostrums.
    2. Weakness in newborns resulted from inadequate nutrients and energy that should be obtained from milk.
    3. Higher pre-weaning mortality.
    4. Lower weaning weight.
      All these problems not only affect suckling piglets but also the weaners that are usually found to develop convulsions.

Normal mammary gland : enlarge and separate from anothers

Constipation : predisposing factor of MMA

Key guidelines to prevent MMA

1. Feed

    • Feed for sows at acclimation period should contain proteins not over than 18%
    • Fibers should be higher than 4.5%.

2. Reduce stress at farrowing

    • Avoid moving the sows to the farrowing during hot weather. Doing before 07:00 am is the best.
    • Acclimation period should not be shorter than 5 days.
    • Let sows cool and do not let them develop panting.
    • Provide enough clean drinking water with efficient flow.

3. Hygiene

    • Do not make a long acclimation period more than 7 days before farrowing
    • Cleaned and disinfected the pens properly by using effective disinfectants.
    • Do not move the sows into farrowing pens immediately after finished cleaning process. Wait for at least a week.

4. Programme for medication

    • Blood parasites (Eperythrozoon)
      Oxytetracycline by injection, 7 days before parturition
    • E. coli
      Enrofloxacin by injection, a day before parturition
    • Streptococcus spp.
      Ammoxycillin by injection, a day before parturition

5. Others

    • Vitamin A, D, E and K should be given to enhance immunity and fertility.
    • Herb supplementation in feed that promote feed intake and disease resistance for a week before and after farrowing may be recommended.
    • Properly adjust DCAB in feed for waiting sows by adding calcium chlorides to inhibit growth of some potential pathogens.


MMA is one of the most important problems that may affect production at farrowing and performance of piglet at nursery . The best way to prevent the occurrence is to adopt good management practices particularly during the acclimation period before farrowing. Stress in sows should be avoided. Good hygiene should be addressed.

Keep in mind that MMA can be found at both pre-partum and post-partum. Monitoring programme should be performed effectively to avoid the problem

Arut Kidcha-orrapin D.V.M.
Technical Department, Better Pharma Co., Ltd.


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