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Splaylegs

Background and history

This is a condition where the newborn piglet is unable to hold the front and/or (more commonly) back legs together and up to 2 % of piglets can be affected. The mobility of the piglet is impaired which makes teat access difficult. It is more common in the Landrace breed and males. Disease is caused by immaturity of the muscle fibres in the hind legs, over the pelvis and occasionally in the front legs.

Clinical signs

Piglets

  • The piglets are unable to stand with the hind legs deflected laterally.
  • As a result they often adopt a dog sitting position.
  • Death usually ensues either due to starvation or crushing because the pig cannot move away from the sow.
  • Poor / low viable piglets.

Diagnosis

This is based upon the clinical signs.

Causes

  • It is more common in the Landrace breed and in males.
  • Disease is caused by immaturity of the muscle fibres in the hind legs, over the pelvis and occasionally in the front legs.
  • The condition is exaggerated when piglets stand on very smooth or wet slippery floors.

Prevention

  • If floor surfaces are smooth these can be roughened by covering with lime wash or increase the use of bedding, particular by sawdust, shavings or newsprint.

Treatment

  • As soon as the affected pig is identified use 25mm wide elastoplast and tape the hind legs together leaving a gap of 50-80mm. The same procedure can be applied to the fore legs. The sticky tape should be passed around the legs just above the supernumerary digits. Never use string it will strangulate the legs if not removed.
  • Hold the piglet up by both its hind legs and vigorously massage the muscle masses over the pelvis and the front and rear of the hind legs. Repeat this 3 or 4 times during the first day.
  • Assist the piglet to suckle 2 to 3 times daily.
  • Dose the pig with 10mls of sows colostrum or cows colostrum immediately after birth.
  • Confine the strongest mobile pigs into the creep area for a period of one hour to allow splay leg pigs uninhibited access to the teats.