News last update:6 Aug 2012

New program calculates cost of sow lameness

A new digital calculator that helps estimate the economic cost of lameness in a sow herd is now available for the swine industry. The calculator was developed by members of the Feet First™ team and is available from Zinpro Corporation.

This calculator is actually an economic model that is based on research conducted by University of Minnesota Associate Professor and Feet First team member Dr. John Deen. To illustrate lost productivity in an operation due to lameness, the calculator takes into account a number of variables. These include replacement costs, various discounts related to lameness, number of pigs produced, and reduced output. The calculator then demonstrates the revenue opportunity associated with reducing the prevalence of lameness in the herd.

“Lameness is a significant issue in sow herds, and this model helps put a number to the problem,” said Dr. Mark Wilson, Feet First team member and Zinpro researcher. “A reduction in lameness prevalence of even a few percentage points can result in tremendous gains in revenue.” “The degree of lameness in sow herds and its affect on herd productivity is routinely underestimated on production facilities everywhere,” said Dr. Deen. “There are a number of reasons for this, but there’s no doubt that lameness is a substantial contributor to lost productivity on the farm.”

Deen explained that a compromised sow in the farrowing crate often produces lower quality litters, and is less able to become pregnant and maintain pregnancy. In addition, lameness causes higher levels of sow losses, many of which are culled due to feet and leg problems and reproductive failure. “Young sows can be the most productive in the herd, and prevention and early treatment of lameness and claw injuries helps maintain feed consumption and appetite,” he added.

Launched three years ago and sponsored by Zinpro, Feet First is an initiative to further advance the swine industry through the identification and prevention of lameness. The Feet First team is composed of a select group of international researchers, veterinarians and nutritionists.

Related website:
Feet First

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