Splay leg

This is a condition in which the newborn piglet is unable to maintain its legs together.

Alternative names: abduction of the legs syndrome, splayed legs disease

Information

This is a condition in which the newborn piglet is unable to keep its hind limbs (and, occasionally, his front limbs) together; it affects up to 2% of piglets. Their mobility is limited which makes it difficult for them to have access to a nipple.

 

Symptoms

Sows

  • Not present.

Lactating piglets

  • The piglets are not able to stand and hind limbs are deflected laterally, therefore they often adopt a dog sitting position.
  • They typically die from starvation or crushing as the piglet can not depart from the sow.
  • Not viable pigs.

Nursery and fattening stage

  • Not present.

 

Causes / Contributing Factors

  • It is more common in the Landrace breed and in males.
  • The disease is caused by the immaturity of muscle fibers of the hindquarters, around the pelvis and occasionally the forelimbs.
  • This condition worsens when the pig is standing on very soft, wet and slippery floors.

 

Diagnosis

  • It is based on clinical signs.

 

Control/Prevention

  • As soon as the affected piglets are identified, put a dressing on hind legs joints with a tape of 25 mm wide, leaving a gap of 50-80 mm. The same procedure applies to the forelimbs. The tape must be passed around the leg, just above the supernumerary finger. Do not use string as it will strangle the legs.
  • Hold the piglet by its hind legs and perform a vigorous massage on the muscles around the pelvis and on the front and back of the hind legs. Repeat this 3 or 4 times during the first day.
  • Assist the piglet to be able to drink milk regularly.
  • Give the pig about 10 ml colostrum immediately after birth.
  • Confine the strongest and mobile piglets in a warm area for an hour to allow splay leg piglets have access to the nipples.

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