Cause: Constipation is a decrease in the frequency and/or amount of defecation accompanied by a prolonged and difficult passage of the stool. When the sow finally defecates, the manure is usually formed into small golf ball-sized portions. Constipation occurs when the sow is dehydrated, manure becomes dry and difficult to pass through the digestive tract. Dehydration is common following farrowing because the sow has lost body water from expulsion of placenta and birth fluids. It takes a few days for a sow to recover the water lost during farrowing and to return to a normal water balance.
Prevention: Provide feed right after farrowing. Feed a laxative several days prior to farrowing.
Treatment: A constipated sow should be exercised for 10-15 minutes, if practical, to encourage movement in the digestive tract. A laxative, such as Epsom salts or potassium chloride, can be given as a topdress (two tablespoons daily) or included in the feed (15-25lbs/ton) to alleviate constipation.