Strategies Sought for Early Detection, Prevention of Lameness of Sows

22 October 2012, at 7:56am

CANADA - Research examining the factors affecting the productivity of group housed sows will assist Canada's pork producers as they consider the switch to group sow housing systems, writes Bruce Cochrane.

As part of a multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary initiative being conducted on behalf of Swine Innovation-Porc, scientists with the University of Manitoba, the University of Saskatchewan, the Prairie Swine Centre, the University of Guelph and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada are examining the productivity of sows depending on their housing system, the role of temperament in the ability of sows to behave in groups, the impact of calcium and phosphorus on lameness, the role of parity and the use of infrared to detect lameness.

Dr Nicolas Devillers, a research scientist pig behavior and welfare with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, notes there's an overall move around the world to group housing systems.

Dr Nicolas Devillers-Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada:

We hope it will be useful to producers because it will give them information first on what are the best housing systems that can be used without affecting productivity of sows and what are the consequences of the different choices for the different systems, for example, for the floor on the longevity of sows.

This is better information for producers, if they want to use group housing systems, to choose the best system. So we will have indicators of lameness.

These indicators, for the moment, are measured with quite complicated techniques but we hope to be able to apply them on farm and to give producers some tools to be able to detect lameness earlier and to develop some strategies to reduce the occurrence of lameness in sows.

Dr Devillers says the results could be used, for example, by veterinarians to diagnose lameness or for quality assurance programmes as welfare indicators.

He says the data is now being analyzed, the first reports should be available in 2013 and will be communicated by the Canadian Swine Research and Development Cluster through it's web site at SwineInnovationPorc.Ca.

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