Main research question/goal
In this research, we develop an objective method (based on image analysis and force plate analysis) to signal lameness in sows in an early stage. The impact and risk factors of lameness are also studied. The research has direct impact on the improvement of animal welfare for sows. Previous research shows that lameness and claw lesions occur more frequently in sows in group housing than in sows in individual housing systems. As group housing for gestating sows will become mandatory in EU in 2013, lameness is expected to increase. Control and prevention of locomotor disorders in sows is therefore necessary. Thorough knowledge of the risk factors is vital. ILVO will develop a valid, complementary methodology for detection that can be used in addition to the visual detection currently used in practice.Research approach
The research consists of four parts: (1) developing a device for early and objective detection of lameness in sows using two major techniques: force plate analysis to judge the weight distribution across the four legs and image analysis for objective determination of the stance of the legs; (2) examining the economical impact of lameness on the reproduction results of sows during an entire reproductive cycle; (3) identifying herd-associated risk factors for the development of lameness around the period of group housing as the basis for preventive measures; and (4) determining the connection between stance of the legs of a sow and the risk of future development of lameness.Relevance/Valorisation
Early detection of lameness leads to a faster response and limits the unnecessary suffering of the animal as well as the financial loss for the farmer. Better knowledge of herd-related risk factors creates the possibility to take preventive measures during the conversion to group housing. A more objective measurement of the stance of the legs of a sow, especially the possible link between stance and the risk for developing lameness, can provide useful information when selecting breeding sows.
IWT - Instituut voor de aanmoediging door wetenschap en technologie in Vlaanderen
Ugent - Fac. Diergeneeskunde