FareWellDock:Ending tail docking and tail biting in the EU - Hazard characterisation and exposure assessment of a major pig welfare problem

DA Sandercock*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


The general aim of this project is to supply information that characterises the risks imposed to pig welfare by tail docking and biting and develop management strategies towards a non-docking policy in the EU.
Tail docking is widely used in most EU countries as a measure to reduce the incidence of tail biting which is a management problem that is complex in its cause and which has been linked to a lack of environmental enrichment, health problems and delayed detection (abnormal behaviours). Tail biting constitutes a major animal health and welfare issue in global commercial pig production and can cause up to 30% losses in some outbreaks. Contrary to the aim of the EU directive (2001/93/EC) tail is routinely carried out, if outbreaks of tail biting can be demonstrated. Mutilations of animals are of general welfare concern for all species and any efforts towards reducing the need for tail docking are important for the future image and sustainability of the EU livestock sector. This project started in September 2013. A preliminary study will commence mid October 2012 aimed at establishing the time course of the development of traumatic neuromas in the docked tail stump. This pathological feature occurs when peripheral nerve trunks are severed such as during tail docking. The development of this feature may be associated with long-term pain sensitivity in the tail.
Implications:This project addresses the interface between animal health and welfare. through this research collaboration we will develop animal based indicators of health and welfare, assess the extent of pain and suffering associated with tail docking and biting, and develop ethical and sustainable management practices which would lead to improved pig welfare.Project collaborators:Newcastle University (UK), Aarhus University (DK), INRA (FR), University of Helsinki (FI), Wageningen UR (NL), Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SE), Norwegian School of Veterinary Science (NO).
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPrint publication - 4 Oct 2013
EventSRUC New Developments in Animal Welfare Research Conference 2013 - Roslin Institute Building, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 4 Oct 20134 Oct 2013


ConferenceSRUC New Developments in Animal Welfare Research Conference 2013
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • FareWellDock
  • Tail docking
  • Tail biting
  • Piglet welfare
  • Pig welfare
  • Pig production
  • EU policy
  • Risk assessment
  • Painful procedures
  • Pain
  • Animal welfare
  • Traumatic neuroma


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