The Feet First team, an international collaboration of researchers, veterinarians and nutritionists committed to advancing the swine industry through the identification and prevention of lameness, has released information concluding that the majority of claw lesions arise from three main sources: inflammation, trauma and mechanical factors, most likely in conjunction with inferior horn.

According to the team, which was formed four years ago by Zinpro Corporation, the lesions of greatest concern are those which penetrate the horn wall into the corium of the foot causing an inflammatory response. The following types of lesions cause pain and locomotion problems for sows:

  • White line lesions: occur at the natural junction between the elastic heel and the more rigid wall. Lesions develop because of mechanical factors, inflammation and inferior horn.
  • Horizontal cracks: most often caused by trauma due to inferior flooring. These cracks will initially appear as linear hemorrhages at the coronary band.
  • Sidewall cracks: run vertically or obliquely from the ground surface in the sidewall up towards the coronary band. Typically along the junction between the soft heel and the far harder wall horn, these cracks are often associated with heel overgrowth.
  • Overgrown toes and dew claws: can result from inadequate wear or chronic inflammation. Problems arise when toes and dew claws grow to such a degree that locomotion is hindered or mechanical injury to the soft tissue of the coronary band is possible. Also, when the horn capsules are severely overgrown, they are at greater risk of getting caught in a slat and being torn off.

According to the research, each of the following trace minerals play a critical role in building strong, healthy feet:

  • Zinc, for corium health, wound healing, as well as sole, heel and wall horn strength/elasticity.
  • Manganese, for joints, tendons and bone density.
  • Copper, for connective tissue, white line health, as well as sole, heel and wall horn strength/elasticity.