Background: The objective of this cross-sectional study was to assess the within-herd prevalence of pars oesophageal ulcers (POU) in high-risk Danish herds using commercial diets fed ad libitum. Furthermore, we aimed to estimate the association between gastric content fluidity and POU using a generalised additive model (GAM). The study included 200 clinically healthy nursery pigs randomly selected from ten farms (20 pigs from each farm). The 10 farms were selected based on a suspected high prevalence of gastric ulcers. Post-mortem gastric ulcer assessment was based on macroscopic lesions, and gastric content fluidity was assessed based on the solid particle sedimentation percentage (solid phase).
Results: We observed an overall prevalence of 35.5% for POU in nursery pigs. Within-herd prevalence varied considerably among farms, with values ranging from 0% in Farm 1 to 84% in Farm 4. Our model showed strong associations between POU and gastric content fluidity (P<0.001), as well as between POU and farm of origin (P<0.001). In addition, we observed that the risk of POU decreased non-linearly as the gastric content solid phase percentage increased, i.e. as the gastric content became more solid.
Conclusion: We have demonstrated that pars oesophageal ulcers are present in Danish herds with nursery pigs fed commercial diets ad libitum. Furthermore, we have established that gastric content fluidity is strongly associated with POU in nursery pigs. Even so, we cannot conclude that gastric content fluidity is solely responsible for POU. Future research should look into the association between pars oesophageal ulcers and both farm management activities and individual pig factors.