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(428) This is prevalent in growing pigs with levels ranging from 1 to 5%. It may be caused by any of the following: (Common *)
  • Arthritis caused by bacteria *
  • Back muscle necrosis - a stress related disease.
  • Bursitis. *
  • Bush foot. *
  • Erysipelas. *
  • Foot-and-mouth disease.
  • Fractures. *
  • Glässers disease(Haemophilus parasuis ). *
  • Leg weakness or osteochondrosis (OCD). *
  • Mycoplasma arthritis (Mycoplasma hyosynoviae). *
  • Nutritional deficiencies.
  • Porcine stress syndrome associated with the halothane gene.
  • Streptococcal infections.
  • Tail biting (see vice - abnormal behaviour)
  • Trauma. *
  • Foot-and-mouth disease and swine vesicular disease in those countries where they occur.
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.
Lameness can account for significant losses in growing pigs either because the pigs are unfit to travel on welfare grounds and require to be destroyed, or they are part or totally condemned at slaughter. Early identification of lame animals and their removal to hospital pens for treatment is a vital part of the control and healing process. Stocking density and mixing are the two major factors that precipitate traumatic disease.

Infections can also account for considerable losses particularly from tail biting and septicaemias that arise during immuno-suppressive diseases such as PRRS, EP and SI.

If there is a lameness problem on the farm it is necessary to identify the common problem and then refer to the relevant disease or diseases.

Consider the following and also Fig.9-26 for identification purposes.

  • If more than 2% of pigs are recorded lame per month further investigations are necessary.
  • Keep records of the time lameness occurs, which house the pig is in and if possible the visual appearance of the lameness.
  • If lameness involves the foot look closely at floor surfaces.
  • Look for marks or scarring on the skin that might indicate external damage due to fighting.
  • Look for cuts or breaks in the skin related to sharp projections from the environment. The position of these on the body of the pig will indicate the height at which these are occurring. Typical examples are worn metal feeding troughs, worn metal pen divisions and bad slats.
  • If there is a high incidence of leg sores associated with fractures assess the conditions precipitating leg weakness.
  • Identify the most common recurring condition and refer to it using the index in this chapter.
  • Consider specific diseases.

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