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New Tools to Allow Early Detection of Lameness

7 March 2012, at 9:39am

CANADA - New tools being developed for early identification of lameness in the breeding herd are expected to improve the ability of producers to select animals for particular group housing systems, writes Bruce Cochrane.

Researchers with the University of Manitoba, in collaboration with the University of Guelph and the Prairie Swine Centre, are assessing the risk factors associated with lameness in pregnant group-housed sows.

The goal is to identify factors that contribute to lameness in various group housing systems and develop reliable tools for early detection of lameness.

Dr. Laurie Connor, the head of the University of Manitoba's Department of Animal Science, notes lameness is a major reason for culling animals from the breeding herd.

Dr Laurie Connor-University of Manitoba:

We had an opportunity to look at lameness and temperament.

That is kind of the personality in some ways, whether the animal is confident, fearful, how they settle into a group, whether there are indicators that can be used early on in selecting these animals that will help to minimise those sorts of problems.

We had an opportunity to look at different housing types, Prairie Swine Centre which has a walk-in lock-in stall situation and a different type of flooring, a slatted flooring for their sows.

At the University of Manitoba here we have two types of housing systems, one with straw, one with partially slatted floors both using electronic sow feeders.

At the University of Guelph they have gestation stalls but they've also got a different type of group housing system using a floor feeding type of system.

We're using those to look at these various ways of evaluating lameness so that we can determine the incidence of lameness within these systems over time but also we can evaluate which of these methods may in fact help to determine if an animal is prone to being lame very early on.

Dr Connor expects a final report by the end of 2012.