The effects of feeding the beta-adrenergic agonist salbutamol to pigs at levels between 0.5 and 5.0 mg/kg feed for different periods were studied in six experiments. The feet and ability to walk of pigs weighing 30 to 100 kg were examined at intervals. False sand-crack, white-line and heel erosion lesions were classified as mild or severe, and corns and wall haemorrhages were also recorded. At each examination the pig was given a grade for the overall severity of its foot lesions. Salbutamol fed at 1.0 to 5.0 mg/kg feed, for as little as 21 to 28 days, increased the frequency (P < 0.05 to 0.001) and often the severity (P < 0.05) of the foot lesions, the higher doses tending to produce more severe lesions, and the overall foot grades deteriorated (P < 0.001). The effects on both sexes were similar. No changes were observed when 0.5 mg/kg was fed for 56 days. Despite the severity of many of the foot lesions, the pigs became lame in only one experiment. Electron microscopy indicated that salbutamol was interfering with horn production, but light microscopy revealed no changes in skin sections. These findings suggested that salbutamol was not directly affecting the function of keratinocytes. Supplementing the diet of the pigs with biotin and methionine did not delay, or prevent, the effects of salbutamol.
- British Veterinary Association. All rights reserved.
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