New information on tail biting and docking in pigs - Results of the European FareWellDock – project

The FareWellDock (FWD) -project showed that pigs losing part of their tail due to tail docking or biting not only suffer from acute pain, but might experience chronic pain for months after docking, or after the biting incidence. Proper use of straw reduces the risk for tail biting and increases rooting behaviour, and FWD further found that use of straw increases pig growth and reduces the prevalence of stomach ulcers. The more straw the better, and to help evaluate the appropriateness of the level of manipulable material used, FWD- partners developed an on-farm screening tool. The link between health and tail biting appears to be two-way, with poor health changing pig behaviour in a way that can increase the risk for tail biting. FWD results indicate that this association might be mediated by cytokines.  Changes in feeding behaviour, both on pig and pen level, can be a sign of an upcoming tail biting outbreak, and calls for preventive actions to reduce the risk that damaging biting begins.

These, and many more results from the ANIHWA EraNet-funded FareWellDock project can help producers reduce the risk for tail biting and the related damage, and also provides new information for policy making in relation to tail docking. 

The FareWellDock project was coordinated by professor Anna Valros from the University of Helsinki, Finland, and included partners from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, UK, the Netherlands and France. In addition USDA, USA was included as an international co-operator. 

For more information on the project results, see the executive summary and the FareWellDock webpage for project updates, information on partners, blogs and publications. The webpage also contains printable factsheets on different topics, such as early detection of tail biting, aimed at end-users. Several language versions are available.

More information

please visit the project webpage: www.farewelldock.eu  or contact anna.valros@helsinki.fi