Mortality, Morbidity and Fertility after Accidental Electrical Shock in a Swine Breeding and Gestation Barn

Researchers at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana report on the accidental electrocution at a pig breeding farm, in which six sows were lost but the event had no long-term effects on the litter size of the other sows in the house.
calendar icon 4 February 2015
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Accidental electrocution occurred in a swine breeding barn, resulting in the immediate death of two sows and requiring euthanasia of four sows in the subsequent hours and days due to injury and hind-limb paralysis, according to Robert V. Knox and colleagues at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana.

In the Journal of Swine Health and Production, they report that the incident occurred on 18 December 2012, while transrectal ultrasound was being performed on a group of post-weaned sows (Group 1, n=23; average parity 1.7, range 0 to 6) to be inseminated on 18 and 19 December and a second group (Group 2a, n=15; average parity 2.3, range 0 to 7) that had been inseminated between and 4 and 6 December (13 to 15 days post breeding). An additional group of replacement gilts (Group 2b, n=7), also bred between 4 and 6 December with the same semen, were located in another room of the barn and not exposed to the electrical discharge.

Among surviving Group 1 and Group 2a animals and the unexposed Group 2b sows, electric shock, breeding group, and parity had no detectable effects on farrowing rate or number of live-born pigs (P>0.10; ANOVA).

Knox and colleagues concluded that electrical safety for animals and humans should be evaluated in swine barns and steps taken to minimise risk of electrocution and electric shock.


Knox R.V., C.F. Shipley, G.E. Bressner and V.L. Jarrell. 2014. Mortality, morbidity and fertility after accidental electrical shock in a swine breeding and gestation barn. J Swine Health Prod. 22(6):300–305.

Further Reading

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February 2015

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