Tail biting in pigs – causes and management intervention strategies to reduce the behavioural disorder – a review

One of the largest animal welfare problems in modern pig production is tail biting. This abnormal behaviour compromises the well-being of the animals, can seriously impair animal health and can cause considerable economic losses. Tail biting has a multifactorial origin and occurs mainly in fattening pigs. High stocking densities, poor environment and bad air quality are seen as important factors. However, it is presumed that a plurality of internal and external motivators in intensive pig production can trigger this behaviour which is not reported in sounders of wild boars. The aim of this review is to summarize the causes and the effects of tail biting in pigs and present management strategies that are likely to reduce its incidence. In particular, management strategies by applying Precision Livestock Farming (PLF) technologies to monitor and control the behaviour of the pigs may be suitable to detect the outbreaks of tail biting at an early stage so that counter measures can be taken in time. The study is from theUniversity of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Foundation, Germany.

Sonoda LT, Fels M, Oczak M, et al.Berl Munch Tierarztl Wochenschr 2013;126(3-4): 104-112.