Prospects for the analysis and reduction of damaging behaviour in group-housed livestock, with application to pig breeding

Laurianne Canario, Piter Bijma, Ingrid David, Irene Camerlink, Alexandre Martin, Wendy Rauw, Loic Flatres-Grall, Lisette van der Zande, SP Turner, Catherine Larzul, Lotta Rydhmer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
55 Downloads (Pure)


Innovations in the breeding and management of pigs are needed to improve the performance and welfare of animals raised in social groups, and in particular to minimise biting and damage to group mates. Depending on the context, social interactions between pigs can be frequent or infrequent, aggressive or non-aggressive. Injuries or emotional distress may follow. The behaviours leading to damage to conspecifics include progeny savaging, tail, ear or vulva biting, and excessive aggression. In combination with changes in husbandry practices designed to improve living conditions, refined methods of genetic selection may be a solution reducing these behaviours. Knowledge gaps relating to lack of data and limits in statistical analyses have been identified. The originality of this paper lies in its proposal of several statistical methods for common use in analysing and predicting unwanted behaviours, and for genetic use in the breeding context. We focus on models of interaction reflecting the identity and behaviour of group mates which can be applied directly to damaging traits, social network analysis to define new and more integrative traits, and capture-recapture analysis to replace missing data by estimating the probability of behaviours. We provide the rationale for each method and suggest they should be combined for a more accurate estimation of the variation underlying damaging behaviours.
Original languageEnglish
Article number611073
JournalFrontiers in Genetics
Early online date23 Dec 2020
Publication statusFirst published - 23 Dec 2020


  • Sus scrofa
  • aggression
  • breeding
  • genetics
  • model
  • savaging
  • social interactions
  • tail biting


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