Tail biting - more information coming available for its prevention
More information is coming out about the perceived
causes of tail biting and ways of controlling it. Can anything prevent it
occurring completely though?
More information is coming out about the perceived causes of tail biting and
ways of controlling it. Can anything prevent it occurring completely
There have been two recent studies looking at tail biting and
what British farmers perceived as the main causes and some practical Dutch work
showing what might help reduce the incidence.
UK study, farmers were asked what they thought were the possible causal factors
of tail biting. The questionnaire was sent out to 429 members of Freedom Foods,
a farm assurance scheme that encourages high standards of welfare for its
Approximately, 157 farmers responded, which is a relatively
high sample number. Of these 42% did not dock their pigs tails (twice the UK
average) but 29% did and a further 29% reported that some of their pig's tails
Interestingly, boredom was the number one
cause, followed by lack of straw, high density stocking and pigs in a bad
In the Dutch study, they looked at preventative measures to reduce
the incidence of tail wounding in young pigs. They added chains, rubber hoses,
straw in racks (to stop the straw blocking the slatted floor) and the addition
of small quantities of straw twice daily (20g/pig/day in total).
Chains and rubber pipes
It showed that chains and rubber pipes
were relatively ineffective in reducing tail wounding in young pigs on a pen
basis. Straw racks were only moderately effective but small quantities of straw
given twice a day were seven times more effective than chains, which are
commonly used as a token to the supply of manipulable materials.
straw is more labour intensive but it gave the pigs something to do and may have
reduced boredom, as reported as the main cause in the first study and may have
stopped them getting into a 'bad mood'.
Once tail biting started, the removal of the biter and the addition
of straw both helped reduce the level of tail wounds, but did not eliminate
Pig producers will continue to be under pressure to improve the
welfare of their animals and stop tail docking and possibly the addition of
small quantities of straw on a regular basis may help reduce the problem of tail
biting, but nothing at the moment appears to completely eliminate the
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