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Animals 2018, 8(1), 13; doi:10.3390/ani8010013

Understanding Tail-Biting in Pigs through Social Network Analysis

1
West Central Research and Outreach Center, University of Minnesota, Morris, MN 56267, USA
2
Division of Agriculture, University of Minnesota Extension, St. Paul, MN 55108, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 13 November 2017 / Revised: 18 December 2017 / Accepted: 11 January 2018 / Published: 15 January 2018
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Abstract

The objective of this study was to investigate the association between social structure and incidence of tail-biting in pigs. Pigs (n = 144, initial weight = 7.2 ± 1.57 kg, 4 weeks of age) were grouped based on their litter origin: littermates, non-littermates, and half-group of littermates. Six pens (8 pigs/pen) of each litter origin were studied for 6 weeks. Incidence of tail injury and growth performance were monitored. Behavior of pigs was video recorded for 6 h at 6 and 8 weeks of age. Video recordings were scanned at 10 min intervals to register pigs that were lying together (1) or not (0) in binary matrices. Half weight association index was used for social network construction. Social network analysis was performed using the UCINET software. Littermates had lower network density (0.119 vs. 0.174; p < 0.05), more absent social ties (20 vs. 12; p < 0.05), and fewer weak social ties (6 vs. 14, p < 0.05) than non-littermates, indicating that littermates might be less socially connected. Fifteen percent of littermates were identified as victimized pigs by tail-biting, and no victimized pigs were observed in other treatment groups. These results suggest that littermates might be less socially connected among themselves which may predispose them to development of tail-biting. View Full-Text
Keywords: social network analysis; tail-biting; pigs social network analysis; tail-biting; pigs
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Li, Y.; Zhang, H.; Johnston, L.J.; Martin, W. Understanding Tail-Biting in Pigs through Social Network Analysis. Animals 2018, 8, 13.

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