Biotin Deficiency

This disease can affect all pigs. The key clinical signs include lameness; soft hooves with dark cracks; laminitis.
calendar icon 13 November 2018
clock icon 7 minute read

Background and history

Biotin is a water soluble B vitamin. The fact that biotin is present in most nutrient sources used for pigs and that it is also produced by organisms in the gilt make a deficiency. This is supported by field experiences but very occasionally a herd is investigated for lameness problems that appear to be improved with biotin supplementation of the diet.

The role of biotin in nutrition and the changes that result when it is deficient are not clear.

Clinical signs

Suggested signs include:

  • Lameness throughout the herd or a group of sows.
  • Laminitis.
  • Hooves will be soft over the walls.
  • Haemorrhage over the solar surfaces of the feet.
  • Dark transverse cracks in hooves.
  • Excessive hair loss.
  • Extended weaning to mating intervals – Anoestrus (sows only).
  • Poor litter size.
  • Diarrhoea
  • Dermatitis.
  • Reduced growth rates.


The onset is usually gradual and this will distinguish the lameness from foot-and-mouth disease. Chronic lesions of swine vesicular disease (SVD) could be confused with biotin deficiency.

Detailed examinations should be carried out on at least 15–20 affected animals and the nature of the changes in the hooves documented. Examinations are best made when sows and gilts are at rest.


  • Biotin deficiency in the diet.
  • Possible cause trauma from poor floor surfaces.


Add biotin to the diet as a routine. Levels in the ration can be determined but firm recommendations are not available. 100–200mcg/kg would appear adequate.


Where a herd shows widespread lesions add up to 0.5–1mg/kg to the diet. Any response will be slow, up to nine months but prevention gives more positive results. Supplementing high levels of 2–3mg/kg may reduce this timeframe.

Emily Houghton

Editor, The Pig Site

Emily Houghton is a Zoology graduate from Cardiff University and was the editor of The Pig Site from October 2017 to May 2020. Emily has worked in livestock husbandry, and has written, conducted and assisted with research projects regarding the synthesis of welfare and productivity of free-range food species.

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