HOW TO IDENTIFY DOWNED PASTERNS
How to detect & avoid downed pasterns when selecting a project
So what is “Downed Pasterns?” and why should you concern yourself with it? The pastern is the “ankle” of the animal and it should have a good angle to support a healthy and strong animal. All species have pasterns and can suffer from downed pasterns. When selecting an animal, you want to find the best animal with the best confirmation and body type. Downed pasterns can be a result of genetics, nutrition or stall flooring.
Downed Pasterns caused from feeding the wrong mixture of grains can be corrected if caught early. Downed pasterns due to genetics are not fixable and you’re better off avoiding the purchase of such animals. With selecting livestock, there are many things to look at and evaluate. Every animal to some point is going to have some type of conformation fault. The goal is to avoid the most obvious faults.
Start with the breeder. Buy your project from a reliable and reputable breeder who works to breed good quality animals. Good breeders will change the herd lines to ensure that the strongest and most solid animals are being produced. Not all animals for sale are bred with the same quality or purpose in mind. The animals bred for commercial markets are different from show markets. The focus is to have an animal with positive genetic traits. Other factors in lameness can be found in the structural shape of your project. Toe Size is another factor to consider. The ideal foot should include two fairly even-sized toes (for pigs & goats) that are big and slightly spread to improve ease of movement and stability. For pigs the outside toe is normally slightly wider and longer than the inside toe, but differences greater than 0.5 inches should be avoided. For more information on confirmation and optimum balance in your project, read the articles in confirmation.
Good breeders use good feed designed to provide the proper amounts of proteins, fats, vitamins & minerals to support healthy growing livestock. You can continue by purchasing species specific food designed to match your project. Example: Market feed for a market project, breeding feed for a breeding project, senior feed for a senior animal. All are designed to meet the optimum nutrition needs of the animal and helps to avoid nutrition related illnesses. Selenium deficiencies has been shown to cause downed pasterns. If that is the cause Bo Se injectable may provide some recovery.
If you choose to feed a Paylean supplement to your pig, feed as directed. DO NOT OVERFEED. MORE IS NOT BETTER. This can cause lameness.
Simply put, the wrong flooring can create or prevent multiple health issues. Dirt and pasture pens can range from too dry to too wet which can create cracked hoof walls to infections and other types of bacteria. Concrete can create problems if there isn’t enough padding as it can wear down hoof walls and cause trauma to the upper legs. Smooth flooring can also be slippery and lead to injuries. It’s also important to make sure your pen is free of damaged boards, wire and other states of disrepair.
The goal is to have a pen where:
- Ground – Dirt should be soft; and avoid powdery or rocky types.
- Bedding – Bedding should be thick, clean and dust free (old shavings get dusty).
- Flooring – Concrete or Wood flooring should not be smooth & slick; semi rough with thick bedding is best.
- Penning of Animals – Projects are grouped together that are of the same temperament (no bullies).
If all four categories are incorporated into your management, the likely hood of developing downed pasterns can be reduced dramatically. If your project happens to become sick or injured and is housed with other animals, separate them to improve the recovery rate.
Here is what downed Pasterns look like. They will look the same for Goats, Sheep, Swine, Horses & Dogs. They look like the leg is going to fall off the back of the hoof.