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(268) Next to reproductive failure, lameness is the second most common cause of sows being culled. Most cases occur from weaning through to the point of farrowing. A lameness problem increases the culling rate, reproductive problems and the non productive sow days so reducing the litters and pigs weaned per sow per year. Often problems involve first parity gilts or second parity sows, just as they are reaching the most productive part of their life. Sows culled for severe lameness may have to be shot on the farm because on welfare grounds they should not be transported. Therefore they contribute significantly to the recorded sow mortality. In order to analyse a lameness problem on a farm it is important to keep accurate records about each sow. These should include the following:
  • Sow number.
  • Parity.
  • Breed and genetic line.
  • Date of mating.
  • Date of farrowing.
  • Date of weaning.
  • Date of lameness.
  • Type of lameness.
  • Housing area.
Alternatively you could use the farrowing rate loss sheet that is used in the dry period.

The causes of lameness in breeding animals can be separated into infectious and non infectious. These are listed below.

Infectious causes

  • Brucellosis
  • Clostridial diseases
  • Erysipelas
  • Foot-and-mouth disease
  • Foot rot, Bush foot
  • Glässers disease, (Haemophilus parasuis)
  • Mycoplasma arthritis
  • Salmonellosis
  • Swine vesicular disease
  • Streptococcal infections
Non infectious causes
  • Fractures
  • Laminitis
  • Leg weakness (OCD)
  • Muscle tearing
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Porcine stress syndrome
  • Toxic conditions
  • Trauma
In the maiden gilt or during the first pregnancy infectious lameness is usually due to erysipelas, glässers disease, mycoplasma infections and brucellosis in those countries where it is endemic. Clostridial diseases are rare in the dry sow but infections of the claws and hock areas due to trauma (foot rot and bush foot) are common causes. Foot-and-mouth disease and the vesicular diseases are discussed in chapter 12. In such infections a number of sows in both the dry sow area, the lactating area and indeed pigs across the unit will have varying degrees of lameness and blistering around the nose, mouth and feet. If there is a herd problem use theFig.7-6 to help identify the cause.

Tissue changes that cause lameness

  • Apophyseolysis (OCD) - Separation of the muscle mass from the growth plate on the pelvis.
  • Arthritis - inflammation of one or more joint.
  • Damage to nervous tissue - Clinical signs vary (e.g. partial or complete paralysis of one or more limbs) depending on the site of the damage.
  • Epiphyseolysis (OCD) - Separation of the head of the femur.
  • Fractured bones - Common in the hip, hock and elbow joints.
  • Haematoma - Haemorrhage into the tissues.
  • Laminitis - Inflammation of the tissues connecting the hoof to the bone. It is not common.
  • Myositis - Inflammation of muscles.
  • Penetrated sole - Damage due to trauma.
  • Periostitis - Inflammation of the membrane (periosteum) which covers the bone.
  • Osteitis - Inflammation of bone.
  • Osteochondrosis (leg weakness) - Growth plate and joint cartilage degeneration.
  • Osteomalacia - Softening of the bones due to calcium/phosphorus deficiency.
  • Osteomyelitis - Inflammation of all bone tissue including the spongy centre and bone marrow.
  • Osteoporosis - Week bones due to an imbalance of calcium and phosphorous in the diet.
  • Split horn - Poor hoof quality. Overgrown claws.
  • Torn ligaments or muscles - A common cause of lameness particularly where muscles are attached to bones.

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