Quantifying the Prevalence of Lameness and Hoof Lesions
Th e aim of this survey was to collect information on the prevelance of lameness and hoof lesions on genetic nucleus herds, to help provide baseline information on the prevelance of lameness and hoof lesions in Canadian sows. Six genetic herds were visited, located in AB, SK, MB, ON and QC. Results found a wide variation in lameness across the herds, ranging from 8 – 46%. Combining data from all herds (1,139 sows in total), 20% of sows showed signs of lameness. although much of this was mild, with only 5% showing signs of more severe lameness. In all barns surveyed, a high percentage of sows were observed with hoof lesions, with 74 – 97% of animals affected. Heel erosion was the most common hoof lesion observed, being present in > 50% of sows in four barns. These results suggest that leg and hoof health problems exist, and could be added to sow evaluation or selection criteria. The fact that some barns had much lower levels of lameness suggests that some herds may carry beneficial genetic traits that help reduce lameness.
The baseline information gathered from this survey presents useful information for industry and researchers alike, and demonstrates that greater emphasis may be needed on sow robustness, especially as group housing for sows becomes more common. Further work to determine characteristics of sows with good leg health and hooves, along with genetic links related to leg and hoof health is of interest, and would help improve the welfare and longevity of sows, and aid in the development of more robust sows for use in group housing.