The Importance of the Social Sciences in Reducing Tail Biting Prevalence in Pigs
Animal Behaviour Centre, School of Psychology, Queen’s University Belfast, David Keir Building, 18–30 Malone Road, Belfast BT9 5BN, Northern Ireland, UK
Centre for Improving Health Related Quality of Life (CIHRQoL), School of Psychology, Queen’s University Belfast, David Keir Building, 18–30 Malone Road, Belfast BT9 5BN, Northern Ireland, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 31 July 2019
Revised: 18 August 2019
Accepted: 19 August 2019
Published: 21 August 2019
Tail lesions are a major welfare concern within pig farming. Tail lesions result from biting and chewing of the tail of one pig by another and can indicate boredom and frustration within the herd. While extensive research has been carried out to understand and eliminate tail biting in pigs, findings from scientific studies have often not been applied in practice. This may be due, in part, to a failure to consider the role of farmer behaviour in improving animal welfare. If farmer behaviour does not change, it is unlikely that tail lesion prevalence will change from current levels. In this paper, the shortcomings of traditional behaviour change theories were discussed and a guide for designing human behaviour change interventions for pig farmers was provided. It is essential that collaborations between social scientists and animal welfare scientists occur if research findings are to be put into practice on farms.