Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Effect of pen design on tail biting and tail-directed behaviour of finishing pigs with intact tails

  • P. Brandt (a1), F. Hakansson (a1), T. Jensen (a2), M. B. F. Nielsen (a2), H. P. Lahrmann (a2), C. F. Hansen (a2) and B. Forkman (a1)...

Abstract

Tail biting is a welfare and economical concern in modern pig production. One common preventive measure used throughout the world is tail docking, which is generally considered one of the most effective methods for limiting tail biting. However, tail docking is a painful mutilation and systematic tail docking is not allowed in the EU. Therefore, the aim was to compare pig behaviour and the prevalence of tail biting in finishing pigs with intact tails housed in two different pen designs under Danish commercial conditions. PEN1 was a traditional Danish pen and PEN2 was inspired by Swedish finisher pen design and had a larger proportion of solid floor area (PEN1: 1/3 and PEN2: 2/3), reduced group size (PEN1: 15 and PEN2: 12), increased space allowance per head (PEN1: 0.7 m2 and PEN2: 0.89 m2) and straw allocated on the floor (PEN2) whereas straw was provided in a straw rack in PEN1. Tail damage observations were carried out daily by the stockperson and every 2 weeks one trained research technician assessed tail damages according to a tail scoring system. Tail lesions were observed in 51% of PEN1 and in 11% of PEN2 (P < 0.001). PEN1 had higher prevalence of tail damages than PEN2 (23% v. 5%, P < 0.001). Behavioural observations were carried out by the use of video recordings. Pigs in PEN2 tended to spend more time on tail-directed behaviour than pigs in PEN1 (P = 0.07), whereas pigs in PEN1 tended to spend more time on ear-directed behaviour (P = 0.08). Pigs in PEN2 spent more time on straw-directed behaviour compared to pigs in PEN1 (P < 0.001). Pen design did not affect time spent on other penmate-directed behaviour. In addition, the level of welfare between the two pen designs was compared using the Welfare Quality® protocol. PEN2 received an overall score of ‘excellent’ while PEN1 scored ‘enhanced’. PEN2 scored higher on all principles besides ‘good health’, where PEN1 scored better on lameness and wounds. The main measurements accounting for the differences were water supply, huddling, tail biting, social behaviour and fear of humans. In conclusion, the combination of increased space allowance, increased area of solid flooring, straw allocated onto the floor and reduced group size (PEN2) resulted in fewer tail damaged pigs and a better overall welfare assessment, despite a tendency for more tail-directed behaviour.

Copyright

Corresponding author

E-mail: pb@sund.ku.dk

References

Hide All
Amdi, C, Lahrmann, H, Oxholm, L, Schild, SA, Nielsen, M, Steinmetz, H and Hansen, CF 2015. Pen-mate directed behaviour in ad libitum fed pigs given different quantities and frequencies of straw. Livestock Science 171, 4451.
Averós, X, Brossard, L, Dourmad, JY, de Greef, KH, Edge, HL, Edwards, SA and Meunier-Salaün, MC 2010. A meta-analysis of the combined effect of housing and environmental enrichment characteristics on the behaviour and performance of pigs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 127, 7385.
Beattie, V, Walker, N and Sneddon, I 1996. An investigation of the effect of environmental enrichment and space allowance on the behaviour and production of growing pigs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 48, 151158.
Day, JEL, Burfoot, A, Docking, CM, Whittaker, X, Spoolder, HAM and Edwards, SA 2002. The effects of prior experience of straw and the level of straw provision on the behaviour of growing pigs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 76, 189202.
D’Eath, R, Arnott, G, Turner, S, Jensen, T, Lahrmann, HP, Busch, ME, Niemi, JK, Lawrence, A and Sandøe, P 2014. Injurious tail biting in pigs: how can it be controlled in existing systems without tail docking? Animal 8, 14791497.
De Briyne, N, Berg, C, Blaha, T, Palzer, P and Temple, D 2018. Phasing out pig tail docking in the EU – present state, challenges and possibilities. Porcine Health Management 4, 19.
European Food Safety Authority 2007. Scientific report on the risks associated with tail biting in pigs and possible means to reduce the need for tail docking considering the different housing and husbandry systems. Retrieved on 2 March 2018 from http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/611
Grümpel, A, Krieter, J, Veit, C and Doppel, S 2018. Factors influencing the risk for tail lesions in weaner pigs (Sus scrofa). Livestock Science 216, 219226.
Jensen, MB, Studnitz, M and Pedersen, LJ 2010. The effect of type of rooting material and space allowance on exploration and abnormal behaviour in growing pigs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 123, 8792.
Klaaborg, J, Kristensen, AR and Brandt, P 2019. The effect of pen environment on pen-mate directed behaviour prior to feeding in finisher pigs with intact tails. Livestock Science 219, 3539.
Lahrmann, HP, Hansen, CF, D’Eath, RB, Busch, ME and Forkman, B 2018. Tail posture predicts tail biting outbreaks at pen level in weaner pigs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 200, 2935.
Lahrmann, HP, Oxholm, L, Steinmetz, H, Nielsen, MBF and D’Eath, RB 2015. The effect of long or chopped straw on pig behaviour. Animal 9, 862870.
Larsen, MLV, Andersen, HL and Pedersen, LJ 2017. Which is the most preventive measure against tail damage in finisher pigs: tail docking, straw provision or lowered stocking density? Animal 12, 12601267.
Nannoni, E, Valsami, T, Sardi, L and Martelli, G 2014. Tail docking in pigs: a review on its short-and long-term consequences and effectiveness in preventing tail biting. Italian Journal of Animal Science 13, 3095.
Oxholm, L, Steinmetz, H, Lahrmann, HP, Nielsen, MBF, Amdi, C and Hansen, CF 2014. Behaviour of liquid-fed growing pigs provided with straw in various amounts and frequencies. Animal 8, 18891897.
Paoli, MA, Lahrmann, HP, Jensen, T and D‘Eath, RB 2016. Behavioural differences between weaner pigs with intact and docked tails. Animal Welfare 25, 287296.
Pedersen, LJ, Herskin, MS, Forkman, B, Halekoh, U, Kristensen, KM and Jensen, MB 2014. How much is enough? The amount of straw necessary to satisfy pigs’ need to perform exploratory behaviour. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 160, 4655.
Scott, K, Chennells, DJ, Campbell, FM, Hunt, B, Armstrong, D, Taylor, L, Gill, BP and Edwards, SA 2006. The welfare of finishing pigs in two contrasting housing systems: fully-slatted versus straw-bedded accommodation. Livestock Science 103, 104115.
Sonoda, LT, Fels, M, Oczak, M, Vranken, E, Ismayilova, G, Guarino, M, Viazzi, S, Bahr, C, Berckmans, D and Hartung, J 2013. Tail biting in pigs-causes and management intervention strategies to reduce the behavioural disorder: a review. Berliner und Münchener Tierärztliche Wochenschrift 126, 104112.
Statham, P, Green, L, Bichard, M and Mendl, M 2009. Predicting tail-biting from behaviour of pigs prior to outbreaks. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 121, 157164.
Taylor, NR, Main, DC, Mendl, M and Edwards, SA 2010. Tail-biting: a new perspective. The Veterinary Journal 186, 137147.
Vermeer, H, De Greef, K and Houwers, H 2014. Space allowance and pen size affect welfare indicators and performance of growing pigs under Comfort Class conditions. Livestock Science 159, 7986.
Welfare Quality® 2009. Welfare Quality® Assessment protocol for pigs (sows and piglets, growing and finishing pigs). Welfare Quality® Consortium, Lelystad, the Netherlands.
Zonderland, JJ, Wolthuis-Fillerup, M, Van Reenen, CG, Bracke, MB, Kemp, B, Den Hartog, LA and Spoolder, HA 2008. Prevention and treatment of tail biting in weaned piglets. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 110, 269281.

Keywords

Effect of pen design on tail biting and tail-directed behaviour of finishing pigs with intact tails

  • P. Brandt (a1), F. Hakansson (a1), T. Jensen (a2), M. B. F. Nielsen (a2), H. P. Lahrmann (a2), C. F. Hansen (a2) and B. Forkman (a1)...

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.