Danish Experiences with Claw Lesions and Mineral Nutrition

Date of publication : 7/10/2008
Source : Vitfoss
Claw health in pig herds is an overlooked factor, which has a great influence on welfare and which may be the cause of increased number of culled sows. Besides lame sow has a lower productivity. Vit-Omic is proven to have a positive effect on lameness and performance.

Historically speaking there has not been any focus on claw health in pig production. Often farmers tried to solve leg problems by applying extra phosphorus – and mostly without any effect. If there would be focus on the claws, then there would only be focus on increasing the biotin application.

On this area the sows have “limped” behind the cows, where research and experiences clearly show that claw health is a very important economic factor – bad claws reduce the productivity and cost the producer a lot of money.

It is general knowledge from literature, that organic micro-minerals (zinc, copper and manganese) together with biotin have a positive influence on claw health. Vitfoss carried out several field trials with Vit-Omic for sows.

We want to improve claw health by partly replacing inorganic micro-minerals (zinc, copper and manganese) with similar organic micro-minerals (Availa-Min’s). After 6 months the claws health are significantly better in the herd. Also we reduce the number of treatment with antibiotics with 55% for leg problems.

Experiences from practice among the approx. 150 herds, that use the Vit-Omic concept, have shown us less culled sows, more well functioning sows in the farrowing pens and better weaners.


The complexity in modern pig production increases. Productivity, welfare and environmental constraints mean new demands for the composition of the feed. The productivity of the sows is increasing and the demand for loose gestant sows makes new demands for longevity. At the same time the maximum allowance for the content of copper and zinc in the feed is tightening because of environmental reasons.

Productivity for life at sows is starting to be in focus. A survey from Danish Pig Production has shown, that in average (36 herds) the sows got 3.5 litters whereas the best herd obtained 5.7 litters. This difference means 40 Euro per year sow in potential increased margin.

Correspondingly a survey showed that only 20% of the sows got 6 litters and that the main reason for culling the sows (>60%) is problems with the locomotion system.


We have decided to call the concept for Vit-Omic, which stands for Vitfoss Organic Microminerals.

Norm applied feed

Traditional mixture

Vit-Omic concept


100 ppm

Only inorganic zinc

Availa Zn + inorganic zinc


15 ppm

Only inorganic copper

Availa Cu + inorganic copper


45 ppm

Only inorganic manganese

Availa Mn + inorganic manganese


0.22 ppm

0.22 - 0.44 ppm

0.44 ppm


Farmers want to make money and they are better motivated to change behaviour if it affects their daily economy. Therefore we will not succeed with our focus on claw health without bringing up economy.

Vitfoss consider the cost for Vit-Omic as an investment. The investment in a herd of a 500-sow farm is approx. 3,500 Euro per year. This investment is neutral, when 9 sows are saved in a year or 0.75 sows per month.

The potential incomes are:

Less dead sows (5%)                                                    10,000 Euro
Less antibiotic consumption                                             1,150 Euro
Less work                                                                         1,050 Euro
Increased productivity (0.5 litter more per sow)           10,000 Euro

Return of investment can easily be 7:1, besides the welfare issue.


Use of organic micro-minerals can improve claw health at sows. Both from a welfare issue and an
economic encouragement far more farmers should be focusing on the problem.

Head of Nutrition Hans Aae, Vitfoss
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