Understanding and solving lameness challenges in pigs could save pork producers as a whole $23 million a year.

To assist in finding answers, USDA’s Agriculture Food Research Initiative presented a four-year, $700,000 grant to investigate the issue. Anna Johnson, an Iowa State University animal scientist, will lead the research project designed to understand lameness in pigs and provide solutions to producers.

Currently, there are no science-based solutions to help producers solve lameness problems in pigs. As Johnson points out, the project’s goal find tools that producers can use to measure pain mitigation, lameness and make practical recommendations that can be applied to manage the problem.

“Lameness is the second highest reason that sows leave the breeding herd early,” Johnson notes. “Problems during reproduction are rated as the No. 1 problem, but we think that lameness may be contributing to the reproduction problems.”

There are no approved drug treatments for pigs that are dealing with pain associated with lameness. Producing science-based answers will help pork producers and swine managers with options for housing, management and treatment options to address lameness and pain in breeding herds.

“We want to be proactive,” Johnson says. “As a research group we see this as an upcoming issue and we want to provide science that can be used to address lameness pain.”

Project collaborators involve other Iowa State researchers, ,including Ken Stalder, swine specialist; and Suzanne Millman and Locke Karriker, who are both associate professor of veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine. Hans Coetzee, an associate professor of clinical pharmacology at Kansas State University, will also be part of the team.

Researchers will use technically advanced tools within Iowa State’s Swine Intensive Studies Laboratory. The tools measure the pressure and weight animals place on each hoof and how the animal’s gait affects weight distribution.

The state-of-the-art research facility is a joint collaboration between the College of Veterinary Medicine and the animal science department in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State. You can find out more at a dedicated website.

Source: Iowa State University