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The No. 1 known reason why sows leave the herd early is lameness. Although it’s not a new problem, it’s become a problem that U.S. pork producers can’t afford to ignore anymore.

Benny Mote, University of Nebraska-Lincoln assistant professor and swine Extension specialist, believes producers can help tackle the lameness issue in their herds by focusing on these three areas.

1. Gilt selection 

Gilt selection is key to make improvements, Mote says. “Don’t be afraid to put extra pressure on your selector if it’s internal. If they do a good job, reward them. If you get it hired in, push the genetic companies for a target for delivering animals,” he adds.

Last month, Mote visited a farm with world-class production. But their death loss was high, he says.

“When I looked at their gilts, I could see the gilts coming in were really straight fronted and toed out. I thought, ‘If I was walking in like that, then I wouldn’t make it very long either,’” he says.

2. Visual appraisal

Don’t underestimate the importance of walking pens and visually appraising animals that need to be pulled for treatment, he explains.

“Walk everything,” Mote says. “Take a look at every animal. Pull animals out in group housing and treat for lameness issues when needed.”

3. Hygiene

Cleanliness of a pen is important, he adds.

“If sows get a crack or break in their hoof, and are walking through a lot of manure, it will get infected,” Mote says. “That is just going to compound the issue. Cleanliness will go a long way in preventing future lameness issues.”


Farm Journal Pork | Jennifer Shike | July 07, 

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