Tail Posture as an Indicator of Tail Biting in Undocked Finishing Pigs
Department of Animal Environment and Health, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), PO-Box 234, 532 23 Skara, Sweden
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Received: 5 November 2018 / Revised: 29 December 2018 / Accepted: 3 January 2019 / Published: 8 January 2019
Tail biting is a large welfare problem in modern pig production, causing pain and reduced health and production. The identification of tail biting is important for minimising the risk of the escalation of the behaviour and its consequences. Tail posture (i.e., tail hanging or curled) has been suggested to depend on the presence of tail wounds and, therefore, has been suggested as an indicator of tail biting. This study investigated the relationship between tail position and tail damages at feeding, since that could be a feasible time for producers to detect tail posture. The experiment showed that 94% of the pigs had curly tails and that pigs with wounds were more likely to have hanging tails than pigs with nondamaged tails. By observing the tail position at feeding, we were able to identify pigs with tail wounds in 68% of cases simply by scoring pigs with hanging tails. To conclude, the scoring of pigs with hanging tails at feeding was found to be a useful tool for identifying tail damages, which may otherwise be difficult to detect by the caretaker.