Study shows trimming claws improves swine locomotion, making culling rate-cuts possible

A University of Georgia (UGA) associate professor, Dr. Robert Dove, foresees a day when claw trimming for swine becomes as routine as hoof trimming is for bovine, ovine or equine farm and ranch animals.

“If you look at cattle, sheep and horses – their feet are trimmed on a routine basis as a standard management practice,” says Dove. “I believe we’re going to move in that direction with pigs as well.”

Dove cites a recent UGA study that demonstrates sound evidence for the need to trim sow claws. The study, “The Effect of Corrective Claw Trimming on Gait Analysis of Sows,” was presented at the 2015 Midwest American Society of Animal Science meeting in Des Moines, Iowa.

“In our study, we were looking at sows that had long claws, and what effect trimming those claws had on their locomotion,” notes Dove, a co-author. “We were able to show some significant changes in how she increased locomotion down the track after we trimmed her, versus before we trimmed her.”

To accurately analyze a sow’s gait and locomotion, the researchers set up two high-speed cameras, synchronized from each side, and one from the rear, to video record sows walking around a semi-circular track. “We were  filming at 60 to 70 frames per second,” says Dove. “When we broke that down to look at it frame-by-frame, we could really look at exactly (within one hundredth of a centimeter) what she was doing within each step.”

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