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Using classification trees to detect induced sow lameness with a transient model

  • C. E. Abell (a1), A. K. Johnson (a1), L. A. Karriker (a2), M. F. Rothschild (a1), S. J. Hoff (a3), G. Sun (a1) (a4), R. F. Fitzgerald (a1) (a5) and K. J. Stalder (a1)...


Feet and legs issues are some of the main causes for sow removal in the US swine industry. More timely lameness detection among breeding herd females will allow better treatment decisions and outcomes. Producers will be able to treat lame females before the problem becomes too severe and cull females while they still have salvage value. The objective of this study was to compare the predictive abilities and accuracies of weight distribution and gait measures relative to each other and to a visual lameness detection method when detecting induced lameness among multiparous sows. Developing an objective lameness diagnosis algorithm will benefit animals, producers and scientists in timely and effective identification of lame individuals as well as aid producers in their efforts to decrease herd lameness by selecting animals that are less prone to become lame. In the early stages of lameness, weight distribution and gait are impacted. Lameness was chemically induced for a short time period in 24 multiparous sows and their weight distribution and walking gait were measured in the days following lameness induction. A linear mixed model was used to determine differences between measurements collected from day to day. Using a classification tree analysis, it was determined that the mean weight being placed on each leg was the most predictive measurement when determining whether the leg was sound or lame. The classification tree’s predictive ability decreased as the number of days post-lameness induction increased. The weight distribution measurements had a greater predictive ability compared with the gait measurements. The error rates associated with the weight distribution trees were 29.2% and 31.3% at 6 days post-lameness induction for front and rear injected feet, respectively. For the gait classification trees, the error rates were 60.9% and 29.8% at 6 days post-lameness induction for front and rear injected feet, respectively. More timely lameness detection can improve sow lifetime productivity as well as animal welfare.


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