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(358) Bursitis is a common condition that arises from constant pressure and trauma to the skin overlying any bony prominence. The periosteum or covering over the bone reacts by creating bone, a swelling develops and the skin likewise responds and becomes thicker, until there is a prominent soft lump. It can commence in the farrowing houses, particularly if there are bad floors but it usually starts in the weaner accommodation on slatted floors which have large gaps. As the pig increases in weight there is increased pressure on the leg bones. Swellings develop over the lateral sides of the hocks and elbows and over the points of the hocks. Such swellings are called bursa although strictly speaking they are not. The term should apply to inflammation of bursa that cover tendons. Worn and pitted floor surfaces particularly if sharp aggregate was used in the concrete, can exaggerate the trauma to the extent that the skin is broken and secondary infection develops. If this occurs on wet dirty floors major problems can arise. Under normal circumstances if there is no secondary infection the condition commercially is not important but if breeding stock is being produced then the management system needs to be adjusted, otherwise rejection rates on breeding gilts will be high.

Wire mesh, woven metal and metal bar floors can produce high levels in weaner pigs in first and second stage housing. Identify the point at which disease first appears and alter the floor surfaces or change the environment.

Clinical signs

These can develop when piglets are 1-2 weeks old particularly where farrowing crate floors are totally slatted. Metal bars are particularly bad. Most swellings commence on the hind legs below the point of the hock or on the lateral aspects of the elbow. With repeated trauma the lesions increase in size and ultimately fluid appears. This is common in pigs 30-70kg weight. Infection with Mycoplasma hyosynoviae can occur and also be seen at the base of the tail over the shoulder blades and the knees.


  • There is no specific treatment that will reduce the bone reaction. Remove pigs to pens that are well bedded.
  • If the swellings have become infected with bacteria inject with either oxytetracycline or ampicillin.
  • If Mycoplasma hyosynoviae is causing infection use either lincomycin or tiamulin.
  • Most lesions do not require treatment.
Management control and prevention
  • Move severely affected animals onto deep bedded floors.
  • Determine the point at which lesions are occurring and relate to floor surfaces.
  • If the problem is arising in flat decks in breeding gilts it may be necessary to change the slats to those covered with plastic. Tri-bar or metal slats and woven mesh are bad surfaces.

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