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An epidemiological study of foot, limb and body lesions and lameness in pigs

By A. L. (Amy L.) Kilbride


A cross sectional study of 103 indoor and outdoor British pig farms was carried out in 2003-2004. Over 12,000 pigs aged from 3 days up to multiparious breeding sows were examined. Prevalence of foot, limb and body lesions and lameness was recorded using clear case definitions. Detailed data were also collected on the pen or paddock that the pigs were housed in with particular reference to the floor design, material and condition. Associations between prevalence of disease and the environment the pig was housed in were analysed using multilevel regression models. Post-mortem examination of a small sample of foot and limb lesions was carried out to better understand the pathology. \ud There was a lower prevalence of body and limb lesions in pigs of all ages, and foot lesions in preweaning piglets, housed outdoors compared with indoors. However, there was little difference in the prevalence of foot lesions and lameness in gilts and pregnant sows kept indoors compared with outdoors. \ud In most pigs housed indoors, there was a trend for an increased risk of limb and body lesions and lameness in pigs housed on hard and slatted floors compared with solid concrete floors with bedding. Although, in contrast to this the prevalence of wounds on the limbs in piglets was lower on slatted floors compared with solid concrete floors. The associations between foot lesions and indoor floor type varied with the age of the pig and the type of lesion. In piglets, sole bruising was associated with housing on slatted floors while sole erosion was associated with housing on solid concrete floors without bedding. In gilts and sows, heel flaps were associated with housing on slatted floors while toe erosion was associated with solid floors with deep bedding. \ud In conclusion, this study has provided the most accurate estimates of the prevalence of foot, limb, body lesions and lameness in the English pig herd to date and generated useful hypotheses regarding the aetiology of these lesions. To further understand this topic cohort and intervention studies are now needed

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