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The effect of hoof abnormalities on sow behavior and performance

Fitzgerald, Robert F., Stalder, Kenneth J., Karriker, Locke A., Sadler, Lawrence J., Hill, Howard T., Kaisand, Jeffery, Johnson, Anna K.
Livestock science 2012 v.145 no.1-3 pp. 230-238
hooves, ingestion, lactation, linear models, piglets, posture, sows, weaning
The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of cracks in the outer hoof wall [CK], length differences between the medial and lateral toe of the hoof [TS], and over-grown toes [OG] on sow lactation performance and behavior. Sows' hooves were observed and assigned a severity score (1 to 3), or 0 for control sows. Lactation sow performance from 223 litters was collected over 2 experiments. Sow behavior was measured in experiment 1 and was scored continuously for 45min prior to and 1h post feeding (n=150). The ethogram contained 4 postures and a maximum of 4 behaviors within each posture. Performance and behavior data were analyzed using a multiple linear regression. All sows began the experiment with similar litter weights (P>0.15) and number of piglets/litter (P>0.15). A significant, negative partial regression coefficient was observed for piglets weaned/litter for sows in the CK and TS groups (P<0.05). A trend (P=0.10) was observed for the association of sows in the CK group to wean −0.21 fewer piglets/litter than control sows. An increase in OG lesion severity score was associated with lighter adjusted litter wean weights compared to control sows. Sows in the control group spent 18.9% standing and 12.7% of the total time standing and eating. The amount of time spent standing and eating before feed presentation was negatively associated with time spent eating after feeding (b=−0.24, P<0.01); that is, each percent increase in time spent eating prior to feeding was associated with a 79% decrease in time spent standing and eating post feeding. Sows in the OG group spent 50% less time kneeling for each incremental increase in OG lesion score. Post feeding, each OG lesion score increase was associated with a 40% decrease in time spent standing and eating. Results from this study demonstrate that foot lesions can impair productivity and behavior of lactating sows.