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Risk Factors of Lameness in Sows in England

20 November 2013

The prevalence of lameness in sows in England was 4.5 per cent, according to a survey as part of a new study by the Royal Veterinary College. Lameness was less prevalent in high-producing sows and in herds with fewer sows per stockperson.

Lameness in pigs is a major welfare concern and one of the most commonly reported reasons for premature culling of breeding sows, according to Katriina J.E. Willgert and colleagues at the UK's Royal Veterinary College.

In this study, reported in Preventive Veterinary Medicine, the prevalence of lameness in sows was estimated using data from 76 pig breeding units in England and risk factors associated with the occurrence of lameness were examined.

The prevalence of lameness in sows was 4.5 per cent (farm median 5.0 per cent; range 0 to 40 per cent), with at least one lame sow being observed at 54 per cent of the 76 farms.

Relative risk (RR) of lameness was determined by multivariable Poisson regression analysis.

Farms with high-producing sows had a lower rate of lame sows than farms with a medium level of production (P=0.01). However, medium levels of production on a farm were associated with higher levels of lameness than farms having the lowest level of production (P=0.02).

Farms where the stockman had responsibility for more sows resulted in an increased risk of lameness (P=0.0062).

When indoor units were considered, area of pen and younger sows (parity 2 or less) had an increased risk of lameness (P=0.001 and P=0.026, respectively).

An increased awareness of the risk factors behind lameness is essential in farm management and can be useful when designing housing areas as well as developing future prevention plans for lameness, concluded Willgert and colleagues.


Willgert K.J.E., V. Brewster, A.J. Wright and A. Nevel. 2013. The risk factors of lameness in sows in England. Preventive Veterinary Medicine. In press.

Further Reading

You can view the full report (fee payable) by clicking here.

November 2013

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