As I was feeding the pigs this evening, I noticed our Berkshire boar, Gus, had a slightly humped spine just above his hams.
I spent some time watching Gus walking around, noting other indications that all is not well with him.
His back legs are straight, instead of having good angulation between the femur, fibula and tibia; he’s walking on his toes; and he swings his legs from his hips.
After giving him some barley, I probed along his spine and down over his hams. There was no heat or swelling in his joints but they were clearly sensitive to the touch. He doesn’t have a raised body temperature.
If it is OCD, it is a consequence of selecting animals for fast growth and increased muscle mass. Berkshires are not as heavily selected for this as modern commercial breeds but they are among the fastest growing traditional breeds.
Two other possibilities are mycoplasma hyosynoviae or arthritis as the result of an erysipelas infection, but I’d expect Gus to have a raised body temperature and swelling with those. He’d also have diamond shaped lesions if he had erysipelas.
The best means of differentiating between the causes of his lameness is to treat him with appropriate antibiotics for the infective diseases. If he responds with 24-48 hours, his condition was caused by infection.
If it doesn’t, it’s OCD.
In Graham’s case we treated him with anti-inflammatories and had another 18 months from him. I can’t see that happening with Gus as the overwhelming majority of potential customers now demand lower prices at a time of ever increasing costs and we can’t justify spending on veterinary costs that we won’t be able to recover.
Similarly with replacing Gus with another boar. There are no reasonably local sources of good quality Berkshire boars and we won’t be able to recover the costs of driving down to the Scottish Borders or northern England to buy one.
So if Gus has OCD, then it very much looks as if we’ll shut the herd down and cull the remaining breeding stock. It’s simply not cost effective to do anything else.
- Piglets Trash Ormsaigbeg (kilchoan.blogspot.com)