October 2, 2018
US swine sector hit by rising sow deaths
The US swine industry has witnessed a shocking number of female pig deaths, with the mortality rate shooting up by 10.2% from 5.8% in farms which hold more than 125 sows between 2013 and 2016, The Guardian reported.
Those findings were gathered from data collected across 800 companies.
Prolapse - the collapse of an animal's rectum, vagina or uterus - is seen as a possible, key cause of the deaths. However, in some cases, due to the condition, pigs were euthanised. Prolapse in some farms has been blamed for up to 50% of sow deaths, based on a separate report in 2017.
So far, the American Association of Swine Veterinarians has not obtain conclusive findings about the problem following its creation of a sow prolapse working group. Another research, a collaboration between the National Pork Board and Iowa State University's Iowa Pork Industry Center, is in the process of collecting data from 400,000 sows on more than 100 farms in the US.
Prolapse is not the only possible cause of sow deaths; other contributing factors include vitamin deficiency, mycotoxins in feed, high density diets or abdominal issues.
Confinement systems in intensive farming and modern breeding practices are also viewed as potential causes or contributing factors. Currently, about 97% of the US' 73 million hogs live in closed barns or confined feeding operations.
In addition, experts, whom the Guardian spoke to, blamed a tendency to overbreed - which leads to tremendous stress on the sow's body - for sow mortality.