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Preventing involuntary culling of sows by optimal use of clinical information:the weak sow index

The International Society for Veterinary Epidemiology and Economics
Publication Date
  • Ecology


Microsoft Word - ISVEE316_Jensen.doc Preventing Involuntary Culling of Sows by Optimal Use of Clinical Information: The Weak Sow Index Jensen TB* (1), Bonde MK (2), Kongsted AG (3), Kristensen AR (1), Toft N (1), Sørensen JT (2) (1) Department of Large Animal Sciences, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. (2) Department of Animal Health, Welfare and Nutrition, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, University of Aarhus, Denmark (3) Department of Agroecology and Environment, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, University of Aarhus, Denmark *Email: [email protected] ABSTRACT In modern pig production, involuntary culling of sows is a main concern for the animal welfare and the farmer’s economy. We developed a Bayesian network model called the Weak Sow Index model, which identifies the probability of a sow to be involuntarily culled due to health problems. Clinical information and information about culling in 2875 sows from 33 different herds were used to develop the Weak Sow Index model. Factor analysis was performed to find the correlation structure among the clinical signs observed. Three latent factors were identified: “Contusions”, “Wounds” and “Lameness” and used in the development of the causal structure of the model. The quantitative links in the model were found using the factor loadings and parameter estimates from a logistic regression analysis. The WSI model demonstrates a new tool for classifying individual sows in regard to their health status, using information from several clinical signs concomitantly. KEYWORDS Sows; Clinical signs; Involuntary culling; Bayesian network INTRODUCTION Involuntary culling of sows is a major problem in modern pig production world wide. A high number of involuntary cullings indicate potential health and welfare problems in the herd (Engblom et al., 2007). The financial consequences are moreover substantial, as involuntary cullings require immediate replacement by gilts and lead to losses of inc

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