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Vet on call: Common birth defects in pigs




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Joy had been waiting for three months, three weeks, and three days or what we call the 3-3-3 wait for her gilts to farrow.

She had diligently selected her breeding stock, including the boar, except for one gilt she had bought from another farm to boost the number of breeding mothers.

She had realised her resident boars were related to the new gilt. Mating the pig with the boars would, therefore, have resulted in inbreeding.

The new gilt was very promising as she conceived on the first mating and had carried the pregnancy to term without incidence.

She unfortunately dropped a bundle of trouble last week. She delivered 13 piglets with the eyelids sealed together tightly. The piglets were all essentially blind.

When Joy called me, she was frustrated by the outcome. “Doctor, is there any known occurrence of piglets being born blind like puppies and kittens?” She enquired.

She further explained the situation with her piglets and said some were moving round in circles like though they had brain disease. Seven piglets had already died because they were unable to suckle well.

The other four gilts had farrowed perfect piglets that were all active and in good health. Joy and her staff had tried to force the eyes open by pulling the eyelids apart but they could not separate since they were tightly attached.

I was not aware of any situation where piglets are born with eyelids sealed and then they open later in life. After she gave me the full history of the gilt and the boar, as she had been given by the farms that had owned them, I requested her to send me photos of the piglets.

From the photos, the eyes appeared well-formed but the eyelids had failed to develop separately and open. I had never encountered the condition in my more than 30 years of practice. However, some medical conditions are rare and unpredictable.

I checked with my veterinary colleagues, pig farmers and documented literature, but did not find any evidence of a similar observation.

I shared the general birth deformities seen in domestic animals in my article on January 20, 2018 available online. The observation on Joy’s farm motivated me to specifically explain the common birth deformities that pig farmers may see on their farms and how to minimise their occurrence.

Animals that give birth to many young ones and frequently like pigs, dogs and cats are good models for observing birth deformities.

In general, however, birth deformities are rare. They are caused by genetic problems, environmental factors or a combination of both.

The most common cause of birth deformities are genetic problems arising from breeding closely related lines of animals. This is termed inbreeding.

The other cause is genetic problems caused by changes in the genes called mutations. Mutations may be caused by faults in the multiplication of the body cells or damage caused by environmental factors whether physical like force or heat, chemical like toxins or infectious agents like viruses.

For farmers and scientists to understand the cause of birth defects, a systematic investigation is required. This can be done at the farm level by asking critical questions as follows.

Are all the affected animals of one breed or one sire (father)? If the answer is “yes”, then the deformity is likely genetic.
Second, is the condition appearing in offsprings of one sire and every group of piglets affected?

Again, if the answer is in the affirmative, then the condition is most likely genetic.

Third, are the affected animals born of closely related parents? An affirmative answer indicates genetic deformity due to inbreeding.


Lastly, were the parents of the affected group of piglets under the same environment, nutrition and management conditions during mating and pregnancy? If the answer is “yes”, then the condition is unlikely to be caused by genetic factors. It may be caused by environmental, nutritional or management factors.

From the criteria of the four questions and the history of the piglets that Joy gave, I diagnosed genetic factors possibly caused by inbreeding since Joy had no proper history of the boar and gilt breeding.

The nervous signs and death seen in some piglets were caused by low glucose level in the blood due to inability to feed. I advised her to destroy the remaining piglets and breed the sow again with a boar of a known breeding history.

Joy had the option of attempting to raise the remaining piglets by hand-rearing. This is where the pigs are helped by a worker to suckle.

They are also taken to the feeding trough to eat and given water by hand. This rearing is uneconomical because it is expensive and the pigs will take a long time to mature.

Furthermore, animals with one observable genetic defect may also be having other internal defects that only become apparent later in life.

Some birth defects are commonly observed in pigs due to inbreeding. Scrotal hernia occurs when the intestines enter the scrotum and appear as a swelling in piglets.

Umbilical hernia is seen when the intestines form a swelling under the scar of the umbilical stamp. Some piglets are born with the anus closed, a condition called atresia ani. The three conditions may be corrected by surgery and the animals live to maturity but they must not be used for breeding.

Other defects can also be observed frequently due to inbreeding or genetic mutation and they require no intervention.

Hermaphroditism occurs when pigs are born with both male and female reproductive traits and organs. Such animals grow to maturity but must not be bred.

Cryptorchids are male piglets born with one or both testicles retained inside the abdominal cavity. When both testicles are in the body, such pigs are sterile. Such should never be bred.

Some female piglets are born with nipples that are inverted and therefore cannot allow milk flow after farrowing. Other piglets are born having tremors (jumping pig disease) due to developmental defects caused by viral infections of the foetus.

Spraddle legs occurs when both hind and fore limbs are uncontrollable and they may spread out making the piglet unable to stand.

The condition is caused by underdevelopment of the muscles that pull the legs inward close to the body but the cause of the underdevelopment is unknown.

Pig farmers should note that there are myriads of birth defects that may be observed in the animals. The good news, though, is that the abnormalities are rare if farmers exercise good practices in pig production.

To prevent the birth defects, farmers should avoid inbreeding by keeping up-to-date records and only mating unrelated animals.

They should also ensure that all animals that show birth defects, however, slight, are not used for breeding to avoid amplifying the defective genes with subsequent offsprings.

Farmers should also ensure the pigs are fed balanced diet containing all the recommended nutrients in the right quantities.

Finally, the farmers should ensure they practice recommended disease control measures and maintain the appropriate physical conditions for their pigs such as good hygienic housing and temperature control.



Sordid tale of the bank ‘that would bribe God’




Bank of Credit and Commerce International. August 1991. [File, Standard]

“This bank would bribe God.” These words of a former employee of the disgraced Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) sum up one of the most rotten global financial institutions.
BCCI pitched itself as a top bank for the Third World, but its spectacular collapse would reveal a web of transnational corruption and a playground for dictators, drug lords and terrorists.
It was one of the largest banks cutting across 69 countries and its aftermath would cause despair to innocent depositors, including Kenyans.
BCCI, which had $20 billion (Sh2.1 trillion in today’s exchange rate) assets globally, was revealed to have lost more than its entire capital.
The bank was founded in 1972 by the crafty Pakistani banker Agha Hasan Abedi.
He was loved in his homeland for his charitable acts but would go on to break every rule known to God and man.
In 1991, the Bank of England (BoE) froze its assets, citing large-scale fraud running for several years. This would see the bank cease operations in multiple countries. The Luxembourg-based BCCI was 77 per cent owned by the Gulf Emirate of Abu Dhabi.  
BoE investigations had unearthed laundering of drugs money, terrorism financing and the bank boasted of having high-profile customers such as Panama’s former strongman Manual Noriega as customers.
The Standard, quoting “highly placed” sources reported that Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Zayed Sultan would act as guarantor to protect the savings of Kenyan depositors.
The bank had five branches countrywide and panic had gripped depositors on the state of their money.
Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) would then move to appoint a manager to oversee the operations of the BCCI operations in Kenya.
It sent statements assuring depositors that their money was safe.
The Standard reported that the Sheikh would be approaching the Kenyan and other regional subsidiaries of the bank to urge them to maintain operations and assure them of his personal support.
It was said that contact between CBK and Abu Dhabi was “likely.”
This came as the British Ambassador to the UAE Graham Burton implored the gulf state to help compensate Britons, and the Indian government also took similar steps.
The collapse of BCCI was, however, not expect to badly hit the Kenyan banking system. This was during the sleazy 1990s when Kenya’s banking system was badly tested. It was the era of high graft and “political banks,” where the institutions fraudulently lent to firms belonging or connected to politicians, who were sometimes also shareholders.
And even though the impact was expected to be minimal, it was projected that a significant number of depositors would transfer funds from Asian and Arab banks to other local institutions.
“Confidence in Arab banking has taken a serious knock,” the “highly placed” source told The Standard.
BCCI didn’t go down without a fight. It accused the British government of a conspiracy to bring down the Pakistani-run bank.  The Sheikh was said to be furious and would later engage in a protracted legal battle with the British.
“It looks to us like a Western plot to eliminate a successful Muslim-run Third World Bank. We know that it often acted unethically. But that is no excuse for putting it out of business, especially as the Sultan of Abu Dhabi had agreed to a restructuring plan,” said a spokesperson for British Asians.
A CBK statement signed by then-Deputy Governor Wanjohi Murithi said it was keenly monitoring affairs of the mother bank and would go to lengths to protect Kenyan depositors.
“In this respect, the CBK has sought and obtained the assurance of the branch’s management that the interests of depositors are not put at risk by the difficulties facing the parent company and that the bank will meet any withdrawal instructions by depositors in the normal course of business,” said Mr Murithi.
CBK added that it had maintained surveillance of the local branch and was satisfied with its solvency and liquidity.
This was meant to stop Kenyans from making panic withdrawals.
For instance, armed policemen would be deployed at the bank’s Nairobi branch on Koinange Street after the bank had announced it would shut its Kenyan operations.
In Britain, thousands of businesses owned by British Asians were on the verge of financial ruin following the closure of BCCI.
Their firms held almost half of the 120,000 bank accounts registered with BCCI in Britain. 
The African Development Bank was also not spared from this mess, with the bulk of its funds deposited and BCCI and stood to lose every coin.
Criminal culture
In Britain, local authorities from Scotland to the Channel Islands are said to have lost over £100 million (Sh15.2 billion in today’s exchange rate).
The biggest puzzle remained how BCCI was allowed by BoE and other monetary regulation authorities globally to reach such levels of fraudulence.
This was despite the bank being under tight watch owing to the conviction of some of its executives on narcotics laundering charges in the US.
Coast politician, the late Shariff Nassir, would claim that five primary schools in Mombasa lost nearly Sh1 million and appealed to then Education Minister George Saitoti to help recover the savings. Then BoE Governor Robin Leigh-Pemberton condemned it as so deeply immersed in fraud that rescue or recovery – at least in Britain – was out of the question.
“The culture of the bank is criminal,” he said. The bank was revealed to have targeted the Third World and had created several “institutional devices” to promote its operations in developing countries.
These included the Third World Foundation for Social and Economic Studies, a British-registered charity.
“It allowed it to cultivate high-level contacts among international statesmen,” reported The Observer, a British newspaper.
BCCI also arranged an annual Third World lecture and a Third World prize endowment fund of about $10 million (Sh1 billion in today’s exchange rate).
Winners of the annual prize had included Nelson Mandela (1985), sir Bob Geldof (1986) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1989).
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Agricultural Development Corporation Chief Accountant Gerald Karuga on the Spot Over Fraud –




Gerald Karuga, the acting chief accountant at the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC), is on the spot over fraud in land dealings.

ADC was established in 1965 through an Act of Parliament Cap 346 to facilitate the land transfer programme from European settlers to locals after Kenya gained independence.

Karuga is under fire for allegedly aiding a former powerful permanent secretary in the KANU era Benjamin Kipkulei to deprive ADC beneficiaries of their land in Naivasha.

Kahawa Tungu understands that the aggrieved parties continue to protest the injustice and are now asking the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to probe Karuga.

A source who spoke to Weekly Citizen publication revealed that Managing Director Mohammed Dulle is also involved in the mess at ADC.

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Dulle is accused of sidelining a section of staffers in the parastatal.

The sources at ADC intimated that Karuga has been placed strategically at ADC to safeguard interests of many people who acquired the corporations’ land as “donations” from former President Daniel Arap Moi.

Despite working at ADC for many years Karuga has never been transferred, a trend that has raised eyebrows.

“Karuga has worked here for more than 30 years and unlike other senior officers in other parastatals who are transferred after promotion or moved to different ministries, for him, he has stuck here for all these years and we highly suspect that he is aiding people who were dished out with big chunks of land belonging to the corporation in different parts of the country,” said the source.

In the case of Karuga safeguarding Kipkulei’s interests, workers at the parastatals and the victims who claim to have lost their land in Naivasha revealed that during the Moi regime some senior officials used dubious means to register people as beneficiaries of land without their knowledge and later on colluded with rogue land officials at the Ministry of Lands to acquire title deeds in their names instead of those of the benefactors.

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“We have information that Karuga has benefitted much from Kipkulei through helping him and this can be proved by the fact that since the matter of the Naivasha land began, he has been seen changing and buying high-end vehicles that many people of his rank in government can’t afford to buy or maintain,” the source added.

“He is even building a big apartment for rent in Ruiru town.”

The wealthy officer is valued at over Sh1.5 billion in prime properties and real estate.

Last month, more than 100 squatters caused scenes in Naivasha after raiding a private firm owned by Kipkulei.

The squatters, who claimed to have lived on the land for more than 40 years, were protesting take over of the land by a private developer who had allegedly bought the land from the former PS.

They pulled down a three-kilometre fence that the private developed had erected.

The squatters claimed that the former PS had not informed them that he had sold the land and that the developer was spraying harmful chemicals on the grass affecting their livestock and homes built on a section of the land.

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Naivasha Deputy County Commissioner Kisilu Mutua later issued a statement warning the squatters against encroaching on Kipkuleir’s land.

“They are illegally invading private land. We shall not allow the rule of the jungle to take root,” warned Mutua.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee recently demanded to know identities of 10 faceless people who grabbed 30,350 acres of land belonging to the parastatal, exposing the rot at the corporation.

ADC Chairman Nick Salat, who doubles up as the KANU party Secretary-General, denied knowledge of the individuals and has asked DCI to probe the matter.

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William Ruto eyes Raila Odinga Nyanza backyard




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