SHOREVIEW, Minn. — Decreasing sow lameness helps improve
herd productivity and profitability through improved reproductive performance
Sows that are better able to move through the facility on a
structurally-sound set of feet and legs have a greater opportunity to reach
their full potential. Producers can help prevent sow lameness by monitoring and
treating lame sows and preventing problems before they occur.
Sow lameness is a prevalent issue in the U.S. swine
industry. In fact, lameness and its effect on swine reproduction are responsible
for the culling of more gilts and first-parity sows — up to 50 percent of the
sow herd, according to some estimates — than all other production factors
In addition to higher culling rates, lameness can affect
joint, muscle and skeletal development, and its stress on the sow is shown to
influence reproduction through longer wean-to-estrus intervals, more
non-productive sow days, smaller litter size, fewer pigs weaned and poor
fertility. Decreased feed consumption caused by lameness also can lead to issues
due to decreased body condition scores.
“Recognizing and understanding the factors contributing to
sow lameness is the first step to deal with this growing problem,” said Mark
Wilson, reproductive physiologist at Zinpro Corp. “Sow lameness affects all
aspects of swine production, including gilt-development schemes, parity
distribution and nutritional requirements.”
Early cases of lameness may be illustrated through shortened
stride, uneven steps and stiff joints, obvious head bobbing while walking,
swaggering of the hindquarters, arched back while walking, reduced weight
bearing on affected limbs and reluctance to move.
Claw lesions are commonly found on 15 percent to 40 percent
of developing gilts. Inflammatory lesions cause pain and stress, directly
impacting the animal’s performance.
To determine the claw lesion that is impacting a sow or
gilt, refer to the Feet First Claw Lesion Scoring Guide available for viewing at
by request from Zinpro Corp. by visiting http://bit.ly/1dpzNBB . Then work
with a veterinarian on treatment options.
Though there are treatment options, preventing sow lameness
before it occurs is a producer’s best bet. Wilson said that gilt and sow
nutrition plays a large role in a lameness prevention program.
“Research has demonstrated that feeding amino acid complexes
helps to improve horn quality, decrease claw lesions and prevent a decline in
reproductive response among young sows,” he said. “Feeding the combination of
zinc, manganese and copper as amino acid complexes helps optimize the foot
health and reproductive performance of gilts and sows.”
Wilson explained that the trace minerals zinc, manganese and
copper each play a role in keeping sows’ feet healthy. Zinc is responsible for
corium health, wound healing and sole, heel and wall horn strength and
Manganese strengthens density of joints, tendons and bones.
Copper is important for connective tissue, white line health and sole, heel and
wall horn strength and elasticity.
“Growth and reproduction are physiological processes that
are innately intertwined with the immune system,” Wilson said. “Adding zinc,
manganese and copper as amino acid complexes to the diet decreases the duration
of damaging inflammatory responses, and the result is a positive change in herd
feed conversion and improved piglet growth and performance.”
For more information on improving sow performance through
trace mineral nutrition and sow lameness prevention, visit www.zinpro.com/species/swine/sows .
Swine producers, veterinarians and nutritionists can learn
more about the Feeding for 30 Program and access nutritional resources by
Purina Animal Nutrition launched the Feeding for 30 Program
in 2012 with the goal of sharing nutrition and management advice and research to
help the industry move toward 30 pigs per sow per year. The industry-wide
initiative now includes partnerships with Zinpro Corp. and DSM Nutritional