Leg conditions in young and

growing pigs



In the pig it is difficult to examine their feet. If you suspect a foot problem do it first while the pig is lying down.


Mycoplasma arthritis


Mycoplasma arthritis caused by Mycoplasma hyosynoviae affects growers to young adults. Animals present with a sudden lameness of the legs, in particular one of the hind legs. There may be swollen joints but quite often there are few outward signs on the leg apart from lameness. Typically, the condition is seen 10-14 days post arrival onto the farm in the new group of gilts.


Lame hind1

Myco  OCD SN6

Gilt lame in hind knee

Inflamed synovia in elbow joint


Pathology - In acute cases, the affected joints presented with a non purulent synovitis.

Treatment - Treatment is to use mycoplasma active antibiotics, for example Tiamutin or Lincomycin.

Control - Control can be difficult when the condition affects incoming gilts. Ensure there is a sufficient introduction period for the gilts to recover fully from their lameness before breeding. A number of growing/finishing pigs are diagnosed as mycoplasma arthritis but are actually sprains from chasing and bullying and therefore heal spontaneously. Review pen layout, size of steps and floor condition.

Diagnosis - Antibody examination of synovial fluid. Note serum is normally positive in most pigs both clinically affected and unaffected.



Joint ill


The organism generally associated with joint ill is Streptococcus suis I in particular. Many other species of streptococci can be involved. Note also Arcanobacterium pyogenes. Pigs present with an acute swelling of one or more of the joints and may be acutely lame. With time the joint swelling resolves and the purulent joint found at post mortem.


Joint ill piglet

Lame Arthritis 02sw


Post mortem - A purulent tenosynovitis which can be very severe. Multiple joints may be affected.

Treatment - Use joint active antibiotics to which the streptococci are is sensitive for example Lincomycin.

Control - Review floor consistency. Rough floors are a major cause of stress. In the farrowing house consider lime washing to reduce the roughness of the floors. Check teeth clipping and tail docking equipment. On many farms these pieces of equipment are dirty and infect the piglet during processing.




Leg splay leg kr

A condition of muscle immaturity aggravated by trauma immediately after birth. The piglet generally presents with the splits in the backlegs and is unable to rise. Severe cases can also include the forelegs. The difficulty rising results in poor colostrum intake and increased likelihood of being overlaid.


Massage the hips and help the piglet walk. Taping the legs together with 0.5 wide elastoplast and then running the tape over the back helps on several farms. If several cases are occurring check flooring. Consider using shedded paper as farrowing bedding. Review possible mycotoxins in the sow feed. Provide artificial colostrum. If the pig can be assisted over the first three days there are few long term consequences.

Lame splayleg bandage




Legs broken elbow

Legs spinal injury piglet

Unfortunately injuries do occur in pigs and if they are severe euthanasia may be the only option. The weaner on the left had a broken elbow. The piglet on the right had a broken back caused by the sow standing on her. In both of these cases there was no effective therapy.


Skin abrasion in the piglet and weaner


Abrasions to the carpus are very common in the piglet and weaner, and almost can be classified as normal in most pig farms. They arise from the suckling motion/activity of the carpus on the floor of the farrowing crate. The lesion develops into a callus and presents few obvious health problems, however, may result in joint ill. Proper care and attention to farrowing floors is to be encouraged to reduce the severity of the problems as much as possible.


Legs carpal injury

Legs exposed carpus weaner

Carpal injuries from rough farrowing house floors

Very severe carpal erosion which has resulted in exposure of the joint.



Ulceration and erosion injuries


Cobbald 5

Erosions are unfortunately not uncommon on pig farms. They are generally associated with rough flooring or sharp contact surfaces. They are very common with new floors. In general removing the animal to a compromised pig pen, ideally with bedding such as straw and covering the exposed tissues with wound sprays. Secondary infections are not uncommon if the animal remains in an dirty abrasive environment.




Legs foreleg bursa live

Bursitis are liquid filled protective swellings over joint surfaces. The body responds to the chronic injury by covering the area with thickened skin with underlying liquids, generally from a tenosynovial surfaces. They can lead to unsightly swellings and may lead to rejection of selected breeding animals.