Lameness: a principle problem to sow longevity in breeding herds
The objective of this article is to review causes of lameness lesions, lameness detection methods, factors affecting lameness, association between lameness and other economically important swine production traits, and treatment for lameness in swine breeding herds. Lameness in sows is an important welfare and economic challenge to pig producers. It has been reported to be the second most common reason for involuntary culling of sows which directly impacts sow longevity / sow productive lifetime. Factors affecting the prevalence and severity of gilt and sow lameness breeding herd are housing type, flooring type, toes / dewclaws management, genetic effect for feet and leg conformation, and nutrition especially mineral supplements. Sow preference and behavioral response to flooring type may be likewise be affected by lameness onset, duration, severity and location. To avoid unnecessary distress and associated financial losses, early treatment of lameness observed among the females in the gilt development unit and in the breeding herd is necessary. The key factors listed previously are the foundation to a proper prevalence strategy. However, this review shows that additional research is still needed, especially studies to accurately evaluate lameness lesions, examine nutrient requirements for optimum foot health, investigate genetic effects on feet and leg conformation, clearly define the supplemental vitamin or / and mineral levels and duration for usage. All of these factors may influence breeding herd lameness and may contribute to more consistent and comparable results from sow herd.
This is a manuscript of an article published as Supakorn, C., J. D. Stock, E. Garay, A. K. Johnson, and K. J. Stalder. (2018). "Lameness: a principle problem to sow longevity in breeding herds." CAB International, Wallingford, UK. Posted with permission.