The effects of housing system and feeding level on the joint-specific prevalence of osteochondrosis in fattening pigs
Van Grevenhof, E.M. × Ott, Sanne Hazeleger, Wouter van Weeren, P.R. Bijma, Piter Kemp, Bas #
Livestock Science vol:135 issue:1 pages:53-61
Osteochondrosis (OC) is seen as the main cause of leg weakness in pigs, leading to welfare problems and economic losses. Environmental factors in pig husbandry, such as the housing system and feeding strategy are expected to influence the prevalence of OC. Therefore, this study investigated the effects of housing system and feeding strategy on the prevalence and severity of OC.
In the experiment 345 pigs were used. At an age of 69 days intact boars and gilts were separated and assigned to groups of five or six individuals. A two by two factorial design of housing system and feeding strategy was applied. The housing system was either a conventional concrete floor partial slatted, or a deep litter floor with extra space allowance. The feeding strategy was either ad libitum or restricted to 80% of ad libitum. Pigs were slaughtered at the age of 161–176 days. In total, five joints of the left front and hind limbs were macroscopically assessed for OC on a five-point scale, ranged from no OC through (semi-)loose cartilage fragments.
The prevalence of OC in the experimental population was 41.4%, and 12.4% of the individuals had severe lesions. The tarsocrural joint was most affected (30.2%) by OC. OC scores between the different joints were not correlated. Medial sections of joints were most affected (63–100%). Boars were more affected than gilts in the elbow joint. Conventionally housed pigs were more affected than deep litter housed pigs. Ad libitum fed pigs had more OC than restrictedly fed pigs. OC was most prevalent with 57.5% in the pigs on the conventional floor with ad libitum feeding. OC was least prevalent with 33.7% in pigs kept in deep litter housing with restricted feeding. The sex, housing system and feeding strategy did not affect OC in the femoropatellar, metacarpophalangeal, and metatarsophalangeal joints.
Our results demonstrate that the OC prevalence can be reduced by applying deep litter floors with extra space allowance and/or restricted feeding in fattening pigs.