20 October 1995

Cracked claws open to disease

UP TO 5% of pigs in some herds are lame due to secondary infections associated with cracked claws.

Normally these lesions are attributed to poor flooring but they are occurring on well-designed floors and outdoor units.

"Many claws are becoming distorted and broken, leaving them open to secondary infections and causing bush feet," says Mark White, veterinary consultant for the Cotswold Pig Development company.

One cause could be a deficiency of biotin, which is the main limiting vitamin affecting horn growth. "The amount of biotin normally supplied by sow rations is intended to supplement that which is naturally produced in the sows gut by micro-organisms.

"Where sow feed is medicated, particularly with sulphonamide-based products, natural biotin production can be inhibited and so dietary levels become inadequate.

"Producers whose sow feed is medicated should discuss with vets and nutritionists about increasing the level of biotin," he says. &#42