Physical and reproductive conditions of cull sows (3,158) from two U.S. Midwestern harvest plants were assessed. Body condition, feet, shoulders, teeth, lungs, and reproductive tracts were visually evaluated for gross lesions on harvested sows. From the observations of this study, body condition score (BCS) was associated with several abnormal conditions of sows. Whether the lesions caused BCS to change, BCS caused the lesions, or the lesions and BCS changed simultaneously is unknown. Most of these abnormal conditions are difficult to reliably observe by production personnel in the farm setting. Observation and attention to BCS may serve as an indicator of other lesions that have the potential to lessen the productivity of the sow.
Causative relationships were not established by this study. However, the strong associations observed suggest that sows that do not respond to increased feeding with improved BCS on farm could reasonably be expected to have additional lesions that may have poor prognosis for high performance. The prevalence of reproductive lesions detected in the current study was substantially lower than the reported percentage of sows culled for reproductive failure in previous farm based studies. Additional characterizations may be able to relate on-farm management practices to one or more lesions that had a high occurrence in the present study.
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