Lameness

Why is it measured?

Lameness is a sign that an animal is in pain and is therefore considered a serious welfare issue. Lameness in pigs can be due to injury or infection in the foot or joint, or to longer term skeletal and joint problems such as osteochondrosis. Osteochondrosis is caused by cartilage damage in the joint and can be due to fast growth. Under foot conditions are a key risk factor for the development of foot lesions. There is an increased risk of abnormal gait in sows housed on slatted floors compared with sows housed on solid concrete floors with straw bedding or sows housed outdoors on soil. There is also an increased risk of callus or bursitis on the hocks as lame pigs spend more time lying increasing the risk of limb lesions developing. Routine monitoring of pigs to identify lame pigs is key to identifying early cases for isolation and treatment, enabling rapid recovery.

How to assess and score using the AssureWel measure

Lameness (dry sows)                                                                                                                               Individual measure

Observation:

Make the individual pigs rise if necessary to observe them up and walking (unless there is an obvious reason why a pig should not be made to rise).
Ensure the sample is not just formed of pigs already standing.
 Record: Number of lame pigs
 When identifying lame pigs, include those which are:
  Standing but not bearing full weight on the affected limb and/or appears to be standing on its toes;
And / Or
Walking with a shortened stride with minimum weight-bearing on the affected limb and a swagger of the hindquarters (may still be able to trot and gallop);
And / Or
Severely lame with no weight-bearing on the affected limb. These may also need to be recorded under ‘Pigs needing further care’.
 Do not include pigs that are showing only stiffness or uneven gait.

Lameness (finishing pigs)                                                                                                                           Pen measure

Observation:

Whilst in the pen assessing the individual measures, make all pigs rise if necessary to observe them up and walking (unless there is an obvious reason why a pig should not be made to rise).
Assess all animals in the pen.
 Record: Number of lame pigs
 When identifying lame pigs, include those which are:
  Standing but not bearing full weight on the affected limb and/or appears to be standing on its toes;
And / Or
Walking with a shortened stride with minimum weight-bearing on the affected limb and a swagger of the hindquarters (may still be able to trot and gallop);
And / Or
Severely lame with no weight-bearing on the affected limb. These may also need to be recorded under ‘Pigs needing further care’.
 Do not include pigs that are showing only stiffness or uneven gait.