Rearing Pigs with Intact Tails—Experiences and Practical Solutions in Sweden
Department of Animal Environment and Health, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), P.O.B. 234, S-532 23 Skara, Sweden
Department of Animal Breeding and Genetics, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), P.O.B 7023, S-750 07 Uppsala, Sweden
Farm and Animal Health (Gård&Djuhälsan), Uddetorp Röda huset, S-532 96 Skara, Sweden
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 2 September 2019 / Revised: 6 October 2019 / Accepted: 9 October 2019 / Published: 15 October 2019
Tail biting is a common problem within modern pig production and is mainly an indicator of poor housing environment where the behavioural needs of pigs are not met. Tail biting causes pain and can result in infection, leading to reduced pig growth and reduced farm profits. In order to prevent tail biting, pigs are often tail docked, without pain relief, within the first week of life. The EU Directive condemns routine tail docking and advises that tail biting can be prevented through improving the environment of pigs. In Sweden, tail docking is banned and all pigs are reared with intact tails. This paper summarises knowledge from Swedish production of undocked pigs and describes practical solutions in use in Sweden that can be applied to pig production in other EU Member States. Housing conditions and management within Swedish pig production, such as stocking density and feeding space, differ in many aspects from those in other EU countries. To prevent tail biting and eliminate the need for tail docking, EU legislation should more clearly match with the biological needs of pigs.