Shoulder ulcers

Shoulder ulcers occur in sows with a low body condition and are detrimental to the welfare of the sow.


These ulcers are usually caused by pressure exerted on the bony prominences of the shoulder, and it is especially seen in sows with low body condition. Eventually the skin breaks down, there is an erosion, giving rise to a large wound. These sows should not be used for future reproduction.




  • At the highest point of the spine appears an area of reddened skin, and it will gradually become an ulcer.
  • In severe cases the injury may extend to 40 - 70 mm diameter with extensive development of granulation tissue.
  • It often affects both shoulders.

Lactating piglets, nursery and fattening

  •  It is not present.


Causes / Contributing Factors

  • It is associated with entirely slatted floors and with individual sows that are too thin and have prominent shoulders.
  • It is first seen during farrowing if floors are slippery.
  • The sow has trouble getting up and this causes continuous bruising on her shoulders. 



  • It is based on clinical signs and bruised shoulders. 



  • As soon as wounds are observed on the shoulders, the sow must be moved to a pen with a good bed, and feeded ad libitum for 2-4 weeks.
  • Cut a hole with the shape of the wound, although slightly larger, on a piece of foam or thick mat and place it around the shoulder wound, fixing it with glue. This pad will protect the wound and let it heal.
  • Be alert in case of cannibalism towards nursing piglets. If it occurs, wean the sow.
  • Sometimes it ends up producing a large granuloma which may be surgically removed.
  • Maintain proper weight in all animals to prevent having thin sows.

Atlas of pathology

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