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Ben Williams

Knowledge Transfer Senior Manager

AHDB Pork Knowledge Exchange

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Predicting leg soundness through biomechanical assessment of gait in pigs

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Research partner: Newcastle University

Sponsor: AHDB Pork - funded studentship (Sophia Stavrakakis)

Duration: 2010 – 2013 

Aims and objectives

  • To parameterise the normal gait of pigs through the use of motion capture technology
  • To determine how gait changes with increasing age/weight
  • To determine the effect floor surface on gait
  • To establish the predictive power of early gait score measures to identify later predisposition to lameness
  • To develop quick, simple biomechanical gait assessment methods for commercial application. 

Findings to date

  • Measured changes in gait patterns over time were largely unaffected by the floor surface on which growing and finishing pigs were reared
  • Detecting true gait deviation may require repeated marker placements for body regions known to promote marker misplacement eg proximal hind limb
  • Gait measurements with low repeatability between marker placements eg absolute joint flexion, should be interpreted with caution
  • The results from this research indicate that gait analysis does offer potential for automated prediction and early detection of lameness, pending the development of adequate software and simplification of the process. 

Further information

PhD seminar presentation (2013)

Research into Action 24

Thesis

Find out more about PhD student Sophia Stavrakakis