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Visual Assessment of Lameness More Reliable that Previously Believed
Dr. John Deen - University of Minnesota

Farmscape for October 21, 2013

A researcher with the University of Minnesota suggests the visual assessment of sows for signs of lameness is more reliable than previously believed.
A series of workshops hosted by the Prairie Swine Centre in partnership with Swine Innovation Porc to update pork producers on research being conducted in the area of sow lameness, longevity and temperament travels to Winnipeg Wednesday.
Dr. John Deen, a professor of swine production systems with the University of Minnesota, says lameness is an understudied area so the number of publications and studies surrounding lameness is limited and there is some difficulty in even agreeing what is lameness.

Clip-Dr. John Deen-University of Minnesota:
When we send various people out into the field to actually look at prevalence of lameness we see at least 10 percent in almost all herds and we've seen prevalences as high as 40 percent in some severely affected herds.
The tools that are used most commonly is simply visually assessing the sows, both in their ability and willingness to get up and down and also in their ability to walk.
Such subjective analysis have often been criticized as not being accurate enough but we actually find pretty good accuracy and repeatability for stock persons actually assessing animals so I'm more comfortable relying on those assessments than I have in the past.
When we take those forward we can communicate more and come to common levels of definition of lameness through scoring of gaits and the way that the sows walk and we can start getting some better records and better analysis of the actual effect of lameness in individual sow herds.

Dr. Deen says lameness not only affects the well being of the animal but also its ability to eat, drink and function normally and when we look at the productivity factors we see there are true economic effects.
For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.

       *Farmscape is a presentation of Sask Pork and Manitoba Pork Council

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