Tissue mineral concentrations and osteochondrosis lesions in prolific sows across parities 0 through

T. D. Crenshaw, D. K. Schneider, C. S. Carlson, J. B. Parker, J. P. Sonderman, T. L. Ward, M. E. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Mortality in swine herds is often associated with lameness, and trace minerals are implicated in maintaining integrity of skeletal tissues. The objectives of this study were to determine if prolific sows displayed evidence of trace mineral depletion with age and to determine the prevalence of osteochondrosis (OC) lesions. Reduced mineral concentrations with age would support recommendations for an increase in the amount of dietary minerals. Tissue samples were collected from 66 sows selected to represent a cross-sectional profile of a prolific herd fed diets with inorganic sources of trace minerals fortified at concentrations typically found in commercial diets. Females ranged from nulliparous (parity 0) to parity 7 with a lifetime average of 12.9 ± 0.5 pigs born alive per litter. Minerals were assessed in humerus, scapula, ovary, liver, and muscle (psoas major) tissues. Percent bone ash increased (P < 0.05) with parity from 64 to 66% but differed among bone sections. The Ca (39.0%) and P (18.9%) concentrations in bone ash were essentially constant in all sections and parities. Bone Cu, Fe, Mn, and Zn concentrations varied among sections, but differences due to parity (P < 0.05) were only detected in Fe. Bone Fe decreased from approximately 49 μg/g ash in parity 0 and 1 sows to approximately 29 μg/g ash in parity 7, likely reflecting loss of hemopoietic tissue with age. No evidence was detected in liver for depletion of trace minerals across parity; however, liver Cu and Zn concentrations tended to increase with age. Liver Mn concentrations varied with parity, but no consistent trend with parity was evident. Ovary Cu and Mn concentrations varied dramatically as a function of the reproductive status, but no evidence was detected for depletion with parity. Articular surfaces of the distal scapula and proximal and distal humerus were evaluated grossly for prevalence of OC; bones were then sectioned to evaluate lesions in subchondral bone and physis. Incidence of OC lesions on the articular-epiphyseal cartilage complex varied among bone sites, but differences across parities were not detected. In a subset of sows with subchondral bone lesions, the lesions appeared severe enough to contribute to clinical lameness, particularly in the distal humerus site. However, none of the sows exhibited lameness at slaughter. As no reductions in mineral concentrations with age were detected, recommendations to increase dietary mineral supplementation with age were not supported.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1255-1269
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2013


  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Lameness
  • Manganese
  • Osteochondrosis
  • Zinc


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