Be careful – lameness!

According to one of the latest researches of United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) more than 15% of all culled sows are culled because of lameness every year. In this research lameness was stated the second main reason for culling after reproduction dysfunction.

Experts from different countries emphasize that the problem of hoof health was underestimated. According to the researches made by the scientists from Iowa State University more than 84% of sows have at least one injured hoof at quite a number of commercial pig farms. A sow who is suffering because of lameness moves less, eats less, loses weight. Inflammatory process accompanied by chronic lameness cause internal changes in sows’ organism: under nutrition, negative influence on ovulation and as a result longer service period. Such sows are usually culled because of reproduction dysfunction, although the original cause is lameness.The problems with hooves remain unnoticed because of different reasons. It happens because the modern practice of artificial insemination does not demand complete absence of musculoskeletal system injuries, which are very important when mating. Another reason is that a saw with injured hooves has a self-preservation instinct: it won’t show pain when moving to avoid chase of other animals from the group. The situation is worsened by poor education and motivation of the employees to fight the lameness in terms of modern pig production.

Economic aspects

Nevertheless healthy hooves are the basis of high productivity of the sow. According to the investigations of scientists from Minnesota University lame animal not only gives fewer piglets per farrowing but also the frequency of squashing piglets rises by 8% with each additional score (Fig.1). German scientists state that lame sows don’t last till their third farrowing, when sows with healthy hooves have4.5-5 farrowings;while the pay off period of the sow is between 4th and 5th farrowing. Therefore lameness causes considerable economic waste of the enterprise. According to some calculations due to the expenses connected with a sow(compulsory slaughter, treatment, higher death rate of piglets and worse quality of piglets) each sow with lame hooves costs the enterprise 180-420$.

Multiple factor problem

Lameness is a multiple factor problem. Lameness is caused by the mistakes in rearing and choosing gilts, incorrect compounds of the feedstuff, improperhousing and care, type of the floor. In addition to it the fertility of sows has doubled during the last 40 years and it means additional musculoskeletal burden for gestating sow. After the farrowing the sow is to produce more milk to multiple litter, which requires more active mobilization of calcium and phosphorous from its bones during lactation period. Although the question of proper feeding of sows for prevention hooves problems is just a part of difficult puzzle.

— EU pig producers will change to group housing of sows. How will it influence the problem of lameness?

— What signs of the hooves should be paid special attention when choosing gilts?

— How can the correct mineral balance prevent lameness? How to estimate locomotion and the level of lameness5 steps of correct hoof trimming

You can read more in the magazine publication «Profitable Pig Production», № 2 (8), April, 2012

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