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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2016

An experimental model for studying claw lesions in growing female pigs

Olsson, Anne-Charlotte; Svendsen, Jörgen; Botermans, Jos; Bergsten, Christer

Abstract

Problems with claw lesions leading to lameness are a growing concern in pig production. However, the causes and development of claw lesions are poorly understood and studies on prevention of claw lesion problems in gifts and sows are limited.This study tested a new experimental model which facilitates evaluation of the impact of different risk factors on pig feet lesions.The model consisted of using young gilts with a well-known background and promoting traumatic claw lesions for study purposes by increasing social and agonistic activity through regrouping on concrete flooring. Then claw lesions were assessed systematically and objectively on feet after slaughter. To test the model, two levels of exposure to concrete flooring were compared; normal activity in groups of gifts (no regrouping=NR) and increased activity in groups of gifts by performing several regroupings (repeated regrouping=RR).A total of 72 gilts (pairs of litter mates) in two batches, aged 4 months, were randomly distributed to the two treatments (NR and RR) in group pens (3 gilts per pen) with concrete flooring. The gilts were given approximately 200 g of straw per gilt every day. At 8, 9 and 10 months of age, half the gilts (36 animals) were regrouped with each other. At 11 months of age, all gifts in both treatments were slaughtered and the left rear foot from each was removed and collected for detailed studies of claw lesions. Lesions of the heel, transition heel/toe, white line, wall and toe and over-growth of the heel were assessed on the outer and inner digit. Blind scoring of claw lesions on a scale from 0 to 3 was carried out in laboratory conditions on cleaned claws. Body lesions were also blind-scored on a scale from 0 to 3 one week after the third regrouping.The results showed claw lesions on the soft and hard horn of the claws and significantly (p = 0.004) higher claw lesion score in RR gifts (0.40) than in NR gilts (0.23).It was concluded that as expected, regrouping gifts on concrete flooring resulted in both more numerous and more severe claw lesions than ungrouped gilts. Likewise, body lesion score was significantly (p < 0.001) higher in RR gilts (1.71) than NR gilts (0.46).It was also concluded that the proposed model could be a successful experimental design for challenging different risk factors, e.g. flooring and management, for development of claw lesions in pigs. (C) 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Keywords

Sows; Claw lesions; Regrouping; Aggression; Flooring

Published in

Livestock Science
2016, volume: 184, pages: 58-63
Publisher: Elsevier

Authors' information

Olsson, Anne-Charlotte
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Biosystems and Technology
Svendsen, Jörgen
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Biosystems and Technology
Botermans, Jos
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Biosystems and Technology
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Biosystems and Technology

UKÄ Subject classification

Animal and Dairy Science

Publication Identifiers

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.livsci.2015.12.005

URI (permanent link to this page)

https://res.slu.se/id/publ/69890