Multi-step tail biting outbreak intervention protocols for pigs housed on slatted floors

JY Chou*, Keelin O'Driscoll, RB D'Eath, DA Sandercock, Irene Camerlink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
47 Downloads (Pure)


Solutions are needed to keep pigs under commercial conditions without tail biting outbreaks (TBOs). However, as TBOs are inevitable even in well managed farms, it is crucial to know how to manage TBOs when they occur. We evaluated the effectiveness of multi-step intervention protocols to control TBOs. Across 96 pens (1,248 undocked pigs) managed on fully-slatted floors, 40 TBOs were recorded (≥3 out of 12–14 pigs, with fresh tail wounds). When an outbreak was identified, either the biters or victims were removed or enrichment (3 ropes) was added. If the intervention failed, another intervention was randomly used until all 3 interventions had been deployed once. Fifty percent of TBOs were controlled after one intervention, 30% after 2–3 interventions, and 20% remained uncontrolled. A high proportion of biters/victims per pen reduced intervention success, more so than the type of intervention. When only one intervention was used, adding ropes was the fastest method to overcome TBOs. Removed biters and victims were successfully reintroduced within 14 days back to their home pens. In conclusion, 80% of TBO were successfully controlled, within on average 18.4 ± 1.7 days, using one or multiple cost-effective intervention strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number582
Issue number8
Early online date20 Aug 2019
Publication statusPrint publication - 20 Aug 2019


  • Undocked tail
  • Tail docking
  • Tail biting
  • Fully slatted floor
  • Victim
  • Enrichment
  • Tail score
  • Pig


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