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Claw Integrity Proves Vital in Swine Lameness Management

New ‘Experts Talk’ Video Stresses Need for Improved Swine Claw Management

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn., Aug. 19, 2015 – Lameness prevention in commercial swine operations continues to prove crucial for animal well-being, performance and herd profitability. Some predisposing factors that may lead to sow lameness and result in early culling from the herd include nutrition, management, housing and trauma.

“We know that lameness, including feet and leg problems, is one of the leading causes of breeding stock culling in most of our commercial herds,” said Robert Dove, Ph.D., associate professor, University of Georgia. “Some of the research indicates that as many as half of the gilts that we cull from the commercial herd are culled because they can’t walk.” 

In a recent episode of Experts Talk, an award-winning lameness prevention video series, Dr. Dove discusses the swine industry’s increasing need for claw trimming to help manage and prevent lameness. “With the move to group housing, now we have sows that have to get up and walk every day,” said Dove. “They have to be able to move much better to maintain their productivity.”

Ease of mobility goes hand-in-hand with optimal productivity, which makes lameness prevention and management a vital key to improving animal performance and longevity. The positive impact of claw trimming on sow gait and locomotion was recently demonstrated in a study conducted by Dr. Dove and his team at the University of Georgia. The researchers set up two high-speed cameras to record and analyze sows walking immediately before claw trimming, an hour after trimming and 48 hours after trimming. Claws were correctively-trimmed using the Feet First® Chute after the pre-trimming video footage was recorded.

According to Dr. Dove, the effects of claw trimming on sow gait could be seen within the first hour. By 48 hours later, there were significant positive changes in the way animals moved. The improvements in sow locomotion included a decreased stride duration, a shortening in time spent standing on each foot, and a decreased swing time in foot movement.

Sows that have demonstrated greater locomotion and ease in movement after claw trimming are sows expected to last longer in the herd and boost profitability. “From a management standpoint, [this means] we’re decreasing the number of gilts we have to bring into the herd,” said Dove. “It means we’re getting more productivity out of the sows that we have. We decrease our culling rate. All of those are things a lot of managers get paid for, so I think that would be an incentive [for the industry], as well.”

Dr. Dove is an associate professor in the Department of Animal and Dairy Science at the University of Georgia. He teaches multiple animal science classes, conducts research and is the state swine extension specialist.

The Experts Talk online video series, sponsored by Zinpro Corporation, features one-on-one discussions with leading authorities on foot health and lameness prevention for multiple species. Each episode features a different expert discussing topics that range from lameness detection, to treating claw lesions that cause lameness, to best-management practices for lameness prevention. To learn more, visit the Experts Talk video library at www.zinpro.com.

  • Claw Integrity Proves Vital in Swine Lameness Management