Tail biting in pigs is an injurious behaviour that spreads rapidly in a group. We investigated three different treatments to stop ongoing tail biting outbreaks in 65 pens of 6-30 kg undocked pigs (30 pigs per pen; SD 2): 1) straw (7 g/pig/day on the floor), 2) rope, and 3) Bite-Rite (a hanging plastic device with chewable rods). Pigs were tail scored three times weekly, until an outbreak occurred (four pigs with a tail wound; day 0) and subsequently once weekly. After an outbreak had occurred, a subsequent escalation in tail damage was defined if four pigs with a fresh tail wound were identified or if a biter had to be removed. Straw prevented an escalation better (75%) than Bite-Rite (35%; P < 0.05), and rope was intermediate (65%). Upon introduction of treatments (day 0), pigs interacted less with tails than before (day -1; P < 0.05). Behavioural observations showed that pigs engaged more with rope than Bite-Rite (P < 0.05). Bite-Rite pigs (but not straw or rope) increased their interaction with tails between day 0 and day 7 (P < 0.05). Straw was the most effective treatment. However, further investigations may identify materials or allocation strategies which are more effective still.
- Enrichment material
- Tail biting outbreak
- Tail injury
Lahrmann, H., Faustrup, J., Hansen, C., D'Eath, RB., Nielsen, J., & Forkman, B. (2019). The effect of straw, rope, and Bite-Rite treatment in weaner pens with a tail biting outbreak. Animals, 9(6), . https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9060365