Associations between pig leg health and lean meat growth in commercial organic herds

Last changed: 29 September 2013

A. Wallenbeck1, C. Eliasson1 and M. Alarik2

1Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Breeding and Genetics, Box 7023, 75007 Uppsala, Sweden (, 2Senior pig production advisor, Swedish Rural Economy and Agricultural Societies (Hushållningssällskapet), Uppsala, Sweden

In Sweden, the proportion of pigs from organic herds with leg joint remarks at slaughter has increased from 4 to 8 % over the past decade (Heldmer and Lundeheim, 2010). The clinical leg health of live pigs has not yet been thoroughly investigated in organic herds. Poor leg health has been found to be associated with reduced slaughter weight and increased carcass leanness (Lundeheim, 2010), two economically important traits in pig production. The objective of this study was to investigate associations between lameness and swollen joints during the growing/finishing period, leg joint remarks at slaughter and lean meat growth.

Sustainable development of organic pig production needs to include both animal welfare and productivity aspects. Knowledge about associations between animal welfare and productivity could be a key for constructive, long-term development of organic as well as conventional pig production systems. Poor leg health is considered a central animal welfare issue in organic pig production in Sweden. The preliminary results presented in this paper indicate that pigs in organic herds with more severe leg problems have poorer lean meat growth. However, the majority of the lame pigs had milder forms of leg problems, which were not found to be associated with lean meat growth.