Tail biting is a serious problem that production centres intend to prevent. Not only due to the economic loss it causes, but also because it compromises the well-being and health of the animals.
Tail biting involves destructive chewing of the tails of pigs and is caused when a bleeding bitten tail becomes attractive to other animals in the same group. Lots of factors can trigger this behaviour, internal and external. Tail biting is mostly the result of boredom, insufficient space (high stocking densities) and stimulation, and frustration. It occurs mainly in fattening pigs and when they cannot express their natural behaviour or are not provided with the adequate conditions (factors such as feed intake, poor environment and bad air quality).
Principal consequences of tail-biting:
- Lower carcass weight, condemned and trimmed.
- Economic loss.
- Health issues.
- Antibiotic usage.
There are many strategies to prevent tail biting. One of the most problematic ones is tail docking as it can cause an acute stress response and worsen the health of the animals. This post clarifies the critical points we must pay attention to if we want to prevent tail biting, to guide the decision-making process if we finally adopt tail-docking and specify the effects this measure brings.