Animal Welfare Main Motivator for Investigating Cause of Ear Tip Necrosis

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Farmscape for January 4, 2022

Full Interview 11:01 Listen

An Assistant Professor with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine suggests efforts to determine the cause and develop strategies to prevent ear tip necrosis are more about animal welfare than economics. In response to increased reports in western Canada of ear tip necrosis, the Western College of Veterinary Medicine is investigating the cause of the condition in hopes of preventing it.
Dr. Matheus Costa, an Assistant Professor with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine and an adjunct professor with Utrecht University, says, while ear tip necrosis does seem to have an infectious cause, it appears a combination of additional factors play a role in determining the severity of the condition.

Clip-Dr. Matheus Costa-Western College of Veterinary Medicine:
Ear tip necrosis is a progressive loss of the ear cartilage. Surprisingly it’s more about animal welfare and a customer perception issue than truly a production disease. It does not limit animal performance or growth, as it has been shown in a recently published study from a group in Europe. They show that pigs that develop ear necrosis did not gain weight less efficiently than normal pigs. It truly does not seem to affect animal performance but we have to agree that that definitely must hurt. As a pig, losing a portion of your ear, that can not be something normal or nice to have. It does affect animal welfare and public perception is another criteria always to keep in mind.
We want to make sure that everybody understands that we put a lot of effort into keeping our animals healthy and definitely finding a way to mitigate or reduce ear tip necrosis is an important step.

Dr. Costa says it appears this is not a viral infection but rather is at least partially a bacterial disease and researchers are examining various bacterial agents in hopes of identifying a cause and ultimately developing prevention or control measures.

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