The effect of straw, rope, and Bite-Rite treatment in weaner pens with a tail biting outbreak

Helle Lahrmann*, Julie Faustrup, Christian Hansen, RB D'Eath, Jens Nielsen, Bjorn Forkman

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

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.
Original languageEnglish
Article number365
JournalAnimals
Volume9
Issue number6
Early online date17 Jun 2019
DOIs
Publication statusFirst published - 17 Jun 2019

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Keywords

  • Behaviour
  • Bite-Rite
  • Enrichment material
  • Pigs
  • Rope
  • Straw
  • Swine
  • Tail biting outbreak
  • Tail injury
  • Weaners

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