Background: Hoof lesions are very common among sows and have been associated with lameness, early removal and compromised welfare and productivity. Although housing conditions and management can have an external effect on hoof health status, the role of trace mineral intake is vital in developing hoof structure and integrity. Therefore, the objective of this study was to investigate the effect of a diet supplemented with organic complexes oftrace minerals (Zn, Cu, Mn), partly substituting their inorganic form, on hoof lesions of sows in three Greek swine herds.
Results: A total of 518 sows were initially examined for hoof lesions and their respective severity was scored. For each hoof, the length of toes and dew claws were evaluated and five anatomical hoof sites, the heel, the sole, the white line, the wall and the coronary band, were examined for lesions. Subsequently, the same sows were re-scored after one or two gestations on diets supplemented with organic trace minerals, partly substituting their inorganic salt form (organic form of Zn 45 ppm, Cu 14 ppm and Mn 25 ppm of the total 125 ppm of Zn, 15 ppm of Cu and 40 ppm of Mn, respectively). The odds of the higher versus the lower lesion scores were significantly lower after than before the inclusion of the organic minerals in sows’ diet, for each of the considered foot sites with the exception of the coronary band, with a distinct effect according to foot location. Specifically, on rear feet the improvement of hoof lesions was either smaller (for heel, sole and wall) than on front feet or not significant (for white line, toe and dew claw length). Additionally, for each foot site and herd examined, after the inclusion of the organic minerals, there were more sows with either the same or lower lesion score, with the exception of the toe and the dew claw length in one of the herds.
Conclusions: Within the specific conditions in the three studied herds, our findings highlight the role of chelated trace minerals in sows’ hoof health, suggesting an applicable and rewarding intervention to prevent hoof lesions.