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(275) Sow mortality in some herds can be a cause of major economic loss. In approaching this problem first categorise the causes and in particular differentiate between those animals destroyed on welfare or other grounds and those that actually die.

Target levels:

  • 3% - 6% deaths. Up to 2% of these may be destroyed on welfare or other grounds.
  • The range in herds: 3% - 15%
  • Levels of 7-9% are not uncommon and relate to specific contributory factors on that particular farm which must be identified.

These include:

  • Age of the herd.
  • Culling policy.
  • Welfare constraints (sows sold as culls and not recorded as deaths).
  • Breed.
  • Presence of the stress gene.
  • Body condition - Sows in poor condition are more susceptible to disease.
  • Availability of water and the incidence of cystitis - pyelonephritis.
  • Susceptibility to leg weakness (OCD).
  • Type of management system. Mixing of sows, fighting etc.
  • Type of environment. Mortality levels are higher in poorly managed housing systems.
  • Quality of the nutrition.
  • Feeding system. this may predispose to ruptured or twisted intestines.
The causes of mortality

At least two thirds of all sow deaths occur in the dry period.

  • Abscesses.
  • Cancer.
  • Chronic disease.
  • Clostridial infections.
  • Cystitis / pyelonephritis.
  • Dead piglets. Womb infection.
  • Electrocution.
  • Fighting.
  • Fractures.
  • Gastric ulcers.
  • Heart failure.
  • Internal abscesses.
  • Internal haemorrhage.
  • Lameness.
  • Paraplegia.
  • Peritonitis.
  • Poor body condition.
  • Prolapse rectum.
  • Prolapse uterus
  • Prolapse vagina
  • Strangulation associated with the environment.
  • Torsion of the stomach or intestines.
  • Vulval biting.

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