Sow Shoulder Lesions Linked to Prolonged Lying

SWEDEN - The longer that a sow spends lying down during farrowing and early lactation, the greater the development of shoulder lesions, Swedish researchers have found. Preventing long periods of lying on her side would help to improve the sow's welfare, they concluded.
calendar icon 30 November 2009
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E. Rolandsdotter and colleagues at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences have published a paper in Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica, reporting their studies relating shoulder sores and sow behaviour.

Shoulder lesions are caused by tissue breakdown of the skin and/or underlying tissue as a result of long lasting pressure, explain the researchers. The lesions are commonly seen in sows during the period of lactation and contribute to poor animal welfare as well as affecting the consumers' attitudes towards the pig industry.

The aim of their study was to investigate the correlation between prolonged recumbency during early lactation and development of shoulder lesions, in particular the lying bout time.

Eighteen sows of Swedish Landrace were observed for 24 hours during the day of farrowing and day 2, 4, 9 and 11 after farrowing in May 2009.

The data were analysed for correlations between the duration of the longest observed uninterrupted lying bout and the prevalence of shoulder lesions recorded at weaning (week 5).

In the study, shoulder lesions were observed in eight of the eighteen sows at the time of weaning. The total lying time of the sows was highest on day 0 and day 2, when the proportion of time spent in lateral recumbency over the 24-hour period was on average 80 per cent.

The longest lying bout had an average duration of 6.3 hours (right side) and 7.2 hours (left side).

A significant correlation (Spearman rank coefficient = 0.88; P<0.05) was found between the duration of the longest observed uninterrupted lying bout and the occurrence of shoulder lesions on right side among well conditioned sows with a low amount of straw present at farrowing.

This suggests that avoiding prolonged uninterrupted recumbency contributes to the prevention of shoulder lesions in sows.


Rolandsdotter E., R. Westin and B. Algers. 2009. Maximum lying bout duration affects the occurrence of shoulder lesions in sows. Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica 2009, 51:44 doi:10.1186/1751-0147-51-44

Further Reading

- You can view the provisional version of the full report by clicking here.
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