May 04, 2015

(Dan) Welcome to Doc Talk. I’m tickled to death that you joined us today. We’re gonna have a great show. Our guest is Dr. Chris Rademacher from Iowa State University and we’re gonna talk about swine lameness, something that’s growing more in concern, things that are more of a ‘eating into our pocketbook’ so to say. Thanks for joining us today. I hope that you enjoy our show.

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(Dan) Dr. Chris, welcome to the show. (Chris) Thank you very much. Sure glad to be here. (Dan) Folks this is Dr. Chris Rademacher from Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, where he serves as the Swine Extension Veterinarian and you’re also a Senior Clinician there at the veterinary school. (Chris) That’s correct. (Dan) Well, to get you here on the show, I know you’re busy and what you do for the industry we really appreciate you taking the time to come talk about this important issue. (Chris) I sure appreciate being able to talk to people about it, cause it really has become a really growing issue in the swine industry over the past 15-20 years. (Dan) Cool. And folks what we’re talking about is swine lameness. And you know when we were setting up the show and queuing things up, you have a lot of experience working in the industry and being a private practicing veterinarian in swine industries in Minnesota, well all over the United States. And so this is something you have a first hand knowledge of. (Chris) Yea, I think over the past 16 years, I’ve practiced with a couple of large swine production companies and really what we saw over the times we saw more and more incidents both in the sow herds and in the grow/finish herds as well. Sow herds I think as we’ve gotten to moving animals indoors and moving them towards artificial insemination, we probably haven’t selected for structurally sound animals as we would have in the past. And then grow/finish herds, we’re taking pigs to a much heavier weight these days than what we used to do before. And there’s obviously always disease concerns and challenges, and challenges about how to formulate diets to keep the cost down that can potentially run into some situations as well. (Dan) You bet. Well, let’s go back to that, the breeding herd. And let’s start out and we’ll talk about the breeding herd and one of the things that you caught my attention, the way we select and the way we manage it may have allowed us to be a little bit more permissive in letting some of these non-conforming animals into the herd. (Chris) Yea, I think artificial insemination really revolutionized breeding herd cause it allowed us to put fewer boars in those environments, and get our semen externally, which means that we could really breed sows and we could really start to select on the sows that produced a lot of pigs and weaned a lot of pigs. And in the rules of genetics, is whatever you’re select for one thing, you’re selecting away from something else. We probably selected away from because we weren’t putting heavy boars on top of sows to do natural mating anymore, we would probably allow sows that in a normal, natural production situation wouldn’t even be in there cause they couldn’t support the weight of the boar. But over time I think what happened then is those animals become lame really easily. They wind up going down and having to exit the herd too early. (Dan) You bet. And then we talked a little bit too about.. that used to be we got our genetics from commercial operations.(Chris) Yea. (Dan) And now we’re producing a little bit more of our own, that we’re maybe we’re not as picky as the animals that we utilize. (Chris) That’s right. Back in the day when the swine industry was really expanding everybody bought their genetics from an external supplier. And at that time, you certainly didn’t want to risk the chance of putting all the money into this replacement guilt and then have the end customer reject it. Now today you’ve got a situation where most of the producers are producing their own, so you’re probably a little more permissive on what you let into the herd and you’re not maybe utilizing some of those skills of looking for really sound animals. You’re just concerned that, hey I’ve got a gilt here, she’s got a vulva, she looks like she’s got four legs, so let’s go ahead and move her in too. So, the economies are always different depending on which side of the ledger you sit on. So, I think that’s exasperating the problem as well. (Dan) You bet. Well let’s take a break. When we come back more with Dr. Chris Rademacher here. You’re watching Doc Talk. More after these messages.

(Dan) Hey folks, welcome back to Doc Talk, I’m Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Chris Rademacher from Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine where he serves as the Swine Extension Veterinary Specialist and he’s also a Senior Clinician. Thanks for joining us today and thanks for talking about swine lameness. And we left talking about the sows and the gilts. And let’s jump into the grow/finish area and talk a little bit about the lameness problems that we’re seeing there. (Chris) Yea, I would say we probably also have seen an increase in lameness problems in grow/finish animals too. And I’m sure part of that is the genetic thing like we talked about before. We’ve selected for animals that are very prolific from a reproductive standpoint and ones that grow very fast, probably not as worried about the structural issues that maybe would go on with some of those situations. (Dan) That’s kind of like with the poultry industry. You know they went through it… (Chris) Very similar, absolutely. (Dan) Yea, very similar types of ordeals. But the other thing is that some of it we might have brought on a little bit on our own on these heavier outweighs. (Chris) Yea. (Dan) As well. (Chris) Yep, I think with… because the industry is becoming so vertically integrated what they’re really seeing, is that big packing plant it’s a very expensive fixed cost, so the more pounds you put through it, that’s how they kind of lower their cost. So, what we’ve seen and our genetics we probably selected for, fast growing animals that we can take to heavier weights. But I don’t think what happens in all that genetic selection, is we don’t select for an animal that maybe has the muscular skeletal system to support all that weight. And I think that can potentially create some of the lameness issues as well. (Dan) You bet. And so, are there… I had two others here and they kind of go hand in hand with production, but disease potential and nutrition, as well. (Chris) Yep, I’d say if we look at total lameness cases that have come into Iowa State over the last seven to eight years, it’s probably been a really big spike in the last three to four. There’s probably been a couple of mycoplasma diseases that have been in the joints, but maybe have always been there, but seems to be a couple of them have been exasperated with some of the heavier weights, particularly mycoplasma hyosynoviae, cause a lot of those are secondary to some of these bone structure problems, problems with osteochondrosis, for example can potentiate some of that stuff. So, we’ve seen a definite increase in those mycoplasma related diseases and the other thing that we’ve seen is some of these nutritional issues. And I think what happened, what kind of changed that was the fact that they were able to engineer an enzyme called phytase, which the primary role of phytase is to get more phosphorus, out of the phosphorus that goes into the diet. And what that allows for is obviously helps to cheapen the diet. The problem is it’s an enzyme so if something happens to that enzyme during the process it’s not taken out as much phosphorus as what they hope for. What happens is you get a calcium phosphorus imbalance and then sure enough, what happens is you start to have bone structure issues, so you can start to see fractures and things like that. Particularly with going to heavier weight, they’re gonna exasperate that problem. (Dan) Absolutely. Even on a guy that’s going out and buying one show pig, we’ve always looked at that confirmation and it seems like that confirmation is a young pig, fast growth, heavier growth rates, really can have an impact. (Chris) Yep it sure can. And you know the confirmation thing too, you look at all the people that do the selection of the replacement animals. It used to be kids that grew up with animals, unfortunately because of the migration away from the farm in some rural communities we don’t have people with those kind of backgrounds. So they maybe don’t look at that as importantly as they’re looking at how many pigs did she have or did her mother have, or things like that. (Dan) Looking more at the computer more than the pig. (Chris) That’s right, than the pig. Exactly. (Dan) Alright. Well, let’s take a break. Folks, Dr. Chris Rademacher from Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary. We’ll be back with more Doc Talk after these messages.

(Dan) Folks, welcome back to Doc Talk. Dr. Dan Thomson and Dr. Chris Rademacher. Dr. Chris is from Iowa State University. My alma mater. And he is the Swine Extension Veterinarian and Senior Clinician and we’ve been talking about lameness and as we left we were talking about grow/finish, but let’s go back to sows. And let’s talk about some of the ways that we can prevent this. Cause I know that Zinpro’s done a lot of work on organic trace mineral and you had some experience with that when you were in practice, so let’s start out with the nutrition. (Chris) You bet, you bet. A lot of that picked up, they’ve got a very healthy business in the dairy business where they’re looking at it. And I think the dairy guys have quantified very well the effect of foot health on milk production and on reproductive performance. And really they kind of took the opinion, well why wouldn’t sows be the same as cows? (Dan) Right. (Chris) And it’s a good way to think about it. So, we had actually done a couple of studies looking at some of the organic trace minerals to see, hey if we make foot health better does that reduce some of that inflammation that can really become kind of the profit robber? Because sows don’t milk as well, they don’t eat as well, they don’t stay in the herd as long. And what happens is they’re not gonna be near as productive animals and they’re gonna wind up sliding out of herd much earlier, either as deaths or calls because they just can’t stand up very well. (Dan) And so when you start going to some of the organic trace minerals, you started seeing improved hoof structure… (Chris) Yep. (Dan) …and then also some performance. (Chris) That’s correct. We’d done a study where we saw that. We definitely saw the changes in the foot structure and we measured them in the research barn and it looked like we saw like 5 percent better retention rate for sows that would stay in the herd longer. We saw probably nearly half a pound on weaning weight and a lot of that was all mediated through sows ate better, they returned to breeding better and then they just made heavier pigs. So certainly looked like there was some impact by adding that organic trace mineral to the diets. (Dan) And one of the other things is that you all went back to looking at some of the confirmation as well. (Chris) Yea. We were fortunate enough to have a consultant, a Dean Compart actually, an old pure bred breeder from Minnesota for years came out and evaluated one of our herds. And as we got walking through there, we looked at the call line and here what we saw were animals that were in the call… sow’s to be called. But they were in there for any number or sorts of reasons but they all had pretty poor confirmation. Then we went to the part of the barn that had the oldest sows in there. And there were kinda of some rougher looking old sows, but confirmation was absolutely perfect and we didn’t select it that way. Those animals self selected out over time. They stayed in the herd longer because they had good confirmation. So that’s really been kind of a lesson learned to say, we need to go back to really starting to look at some of this confirmation, the foot confirmation when we’re doing selection for replacement animals. (Dan) And I think it was, when you made the comment that when we’re selecting for one trait, we’re deselecting for another. (Chris) Yea, yep. And I think that was an easy one to give up. Because when the statistician and geneticists put that into the model, it didn’t rate out very high, because back in the day it was all about how do we get these sows to give us more pigs and have those pigs grow faster? And I think the confirmation thing just kinda got left to the side over time. (Dan) And you know we see it, we see it all the time. And maybe it’s that optimizing growth instead of maximizing growth that all of our industries are going through. (Chris) Absolutely, it’s all part of the growing pain process, that’s for sure. (Dan) Cool, well folks, were gonna take a break. Dr. Chris Rademacher from Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. More Doc Talk, right after this.

(Dan) Folks, welcome back to Doc Talk, Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Chris Rademacher. And Dr. Chris is from Iowa State University where he serves as the Swine Extension Veterinarian and Senior Clinician at the College of Veterinary Medicine and we’re talking about swine lameness. And you know when you get into these cases and you’re a producer out there and we have producers watching, we have veterinarians, we have people that aren’t involved in the swine industry watching. But when you get out there and find that lameness issue what are some of the first steps you need to go through? (Chris) Yea, good point. I think getting the veterinarian involved is probably the primary thing. Just because they’ll do a really good job of helping you think through and sort through. Now what our experience has been, is these lameness cases usually are pretty complicated. It’s not usually just as simple as, well you’re doing this wrong, change this and it’ll fix the problem. They tend to be multifactorial, so may different things that may be causing it. So, we’ve had the best luck in resolving these cases. Generally if we see an outbreak within a sow farm or in a grow/finisher…it is to actually load up 15-20, coordinate with the diagnostic lab ahead of time. But we’ve taken anywhere from 15 to 20 animals in and let the pathologists do the necropsy and do all the tests there. And that’s really been a good way to be able to kind of whittle, whittle it down and to be able to definitely tell us, here’s what the issues really are and then that’s allowed us to go back and plan to OK, what do we have to change to make this thing better? (Dan) Right, right. So, a lot of times is it site specific, or can it be spread across a farm? (Chris) Yep. Great question. Usually, I would say more often than not, it tends to be a little bit more systematic. It can be a site issue, but many times especially if we talk about genetics, or nutrition or breeding herd, it’s probably affecting pigs on multiple sites. (Dan) Got cha. (Chris) So, all the more reason really to get your veterinarian and then they’ll probably get a diagnostic lab involved to come up with the right diagnosis. (Dan) And I think that you know the one thing that we said, whether it’s beef industry or poultry or swine is that Dad always said that he could sell a vaccine for a few thousand dollars, but he couldn’t sell a diagnosis for a few dollars. (Chris) Absolutely. (Dan) And you know, I think getting that diagnostic answer is so vitally important. (Chris) That’s right it’s key because then you can go back and the veterinarians will be good at this- OK, here’s what the issue is. Here’s what that’s really costing you. It’s like the dead pig thing, but if it’s slowing down your growth or having a poor feed conversion that’s really going to cost you money. So, the diagnostic actually gets to be the cheapest part of that whole process. (Dan) Absolutely. And it’s one of those things too, that when you start to say, hey the sooner we get to the bottom of this, the sooner we can start fixing it. (Chris) That’s exactly right. (Dan) Well, I appreciate you being on the show. (Chris) My pleasure. I appreciate being asked. (Dan) Thanks. And folks we appreciate you watching Doc Talk as well. If you want to know more about what we do here at Doc Talk, you can find us on the web at www.vet.ksu.edu. Remember always work with your local veterinarian. Thanks for watching Doc Talk today. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson and I’ll see you down the road.

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