Lameness is a phrase that seems a bit outdated as it describes a symptom of something else and is not as clear or concise as it could be. After all, a lame pig may be one that refuses or hesitates to stand or get up from the laying area. It could be a pig that suddenly appears to walk very stiffly or one that sits like a dog rather than standing in typical pig postures. It could be when the pig’s stance is hunched and its head lowered.
Lameness can present in a pig for many reasons. Fighting is a primary cause, but so too is riding. Infections in wounds or joints can also be a reason for a pig to display any of the behaviors above. Yet, another main reason behind signs or displays of lameness is mycoplasmal arthritis.
What is it? It is a bacterial infection and it is essential that it be dealt with properly, as one expert explained: “Well obviously the welfare of the animal should always be considered, but the treatment of the disease is also necessary to stop it impacting growth. When it hurts to get up pigs are much less likely to go and eat, and when it hurts to stand pigs won’t stay at the feeder as long as they normally would, and when it hurts to fight back when another pig barges into your feed space the easiest option is just to go and lie back down. Groups with outbreaks of Mycoplasmal arthritis will have lower feed intakes and that results in lower growth rates.”
Issuing an antimicrobial to the individual pig can start to address the issue, as well as offering some sort of pain relief. It can be endemic once started, so it is important to identify and treat pigs living with the condition. Optimal housing makes it easy to take note of and treat pigs showing such symptoms, and IDS Pigs provides pork farmers with bespoke solutions that make dealing with pigs individually easier than ever.