Managing undocked pigs – on-farm prevention of tail biting and attitudes towards tail biting and docking

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Porcine Health Management. 2016 Feb 01;2(1):2

Title: Managing undocked pigs – on-farm prevention of tail biting and attitudes towards tail biting and docking
Author: Valros, Anna; Munsterhjelm, Camilla; Hänninen, Laura; Kauppinen, Tiina; Heinonen, Mari
Publisher: BioMed Central
Date: 2016-02-01
Abstract: Abstract Background Tail biting is a common and serious welfare problem in pig production, causing large economical losses. Tail docking is performed routinely in most EU countries to reduce the tail biting risk. However, tail docking is painful, and does not prevent tail biting totally. The risk factors behind tail docking are multifactorial and most analyses are based on studies using biological or epidemiological approaches. There is very little information available on how producers deal with tail biting on-farm. There are also no studies on the attitude of producers towards tail docking and tail biting in systems with long-tailed pigs. We aimed to study how farmers rate the efficiency of different measures for preventing and intervening with tail biting, when tail docking is not allowed. Furthermore, we investigated the attitudes of Finnish farmers to tail docking and tail biting. Results Respondents scored feeding-related issues to be most important for prevention of tail biting, identifying and removing the biting pig as most important intervention measures, and straw as the most important manipulable material when preventing tail biting. Tail biting was not perceived as a very serious problem by over 70 % of the respondents, even though docking is not allowed, and was reported to occur close to a level which was also considered acceptable by the respondents. Most respondents did not think it is probable they would raise tail docked pigs if it were possible, but about 21 % probably would. Conclusions In comparison with other authors’ findings, the ranking of importance of risk factors for tail biting differs between scientists and farmers, and between farmers in different cultures of pig production. In addition, the attitude towards tail biting and tail docking appears to be very different in producers with different experiences of tail docking. These results indicate that a scientist-farmer dialogue, as well as international communication is important when trying to reduce the risk of tail biting, and subsequently the need for tail docking.
Rights: Valros et al.

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