fbpx
Sign up now!
Don't show this again
Download the report!Continue to Site >
or wait 7 secs

Thank you for confirming your subscription!

(And remember, if ever you want to change your email preferences or unsubscribe, just click on the links at the bottom of any email.)

We’re glad you’re enjoying Pig Health Today.
Access is free but you’ll need to register to view more content.
Already registered? Sign In
Tap to download the app
X
Share
X

REPORTS

Collect articles and features into your own report to read later, print or share with others

Create a New Report

Favorites

Read Later

Create a new report

Report title (required) Brief description (optional)
CREATE
X
NEXT
PORK POULTRY
follow us


You must be logged in to edit your profile.

Favorites Read Later My Reports PHT Special Reports
Pig Health Today is equipped with some amazing (and free) tools for organizing and sharing content, as well as creating your own magazines and special reports. To access them, please register today.
Sponsored by Zoetis

Pig Health Today | Sponsored by Zoetis

.
X
• • • •   SPECIAL COVID-19 MESSAGE FROM PIG HEALTH TODAY   • • • •

The editors of Pig Health Today are acutely aware of the hardships facing the pork industry as it responds to plant closures, labor shortages and other challenges resulting from the pandemic.

At the same time, we recognize that maintaining herd health and biosecurity are vital to the industry’s long-term security and sustainability. We therefore will continue to report on the latest news and information to help the pork industry meet this goal. As always, we welcome your comments and editorial suggestions.

Please click here to contact the editor.

Featured Video Play Icon

Feed, water, air and comfort: Keys to prevent tail biting

Tail biting in pigs remains something of a mystery. What triggers a pig or pigs to bite tails? Why do some express this vice and others do not?

“My answer is somehow the pig feels like he doesn’t have the feed, water, air or comfort he needs,” Jer Geiger, health assurance veterinarian for PIC, told Pig Health Today. “He feels he’s in a competitive environment, and it’s part of his nature to respond with biting.”

There’s still a lot of confusion about tail biting, Geiger said. To establish a better understanding, he points to research that has grouped pig motivations into three categories.

  • Category 1 is a two-stage process, which is related to the pig’s natural behavior as an inquisitive forager. “In modern production, practices and facilities we have eliminated or severely limited their ability to forage,” Geiger said. “So, the pig goes looking for other substrates that he might explore.”Stage one starts off as innocent nibbling but then may develop into more aggressive biting, which is stage two.
  • Category 2 is outright aggressive biting with severe damage and pain to the victimized pig. This behavior develops from the pig’s frustration related to limitations of space, feed or water. “He feels that he’s in a competitive environment and therefore needs to be competitive and aggressive,” Geiger said.In this situation, tail biting presents as a “more explosive” development; it’s not one pig that becomes aggressive but a group of pigs. “So, you see a sudden change throughout a whole barn or room,” he added. “One day there’s no evidence, and three days later it looks much different.”
  • Category 3 involves individual pigs that seem obsessed with biting tails. “If you can find that one particular individual in a pen and remove it, the problem goes away,” Geiger noted.

Tail length matters

Over the years, pork producers have attempted to address tail biting by clipping tails during piglet processing. While this now common practice has discouraged tail biting in general, it has not eliminated it within some situations or groups of pigs.

Researchers have identified that docking the tail to a quarter of an inch at piglet processing is the appropriate length. It’s been shown that a longer tail stub, say one-half inch, increases the chance of tail biting. But more important than the ultimate length is the consistency within a group of pigs, Geiger said.

“If you vary between a quarter, a half and five-eighths (of an inch), now you’ve set yourself up for an even greater risk,” he added.

Many producers use quarter-inch spacers that they place on the piglet’s tailhead to ensure tails are docked to a consistent length.

Prevention is the priority

Prevention is key because once tail biting begins, and you’re attempting to treat it, you’re fighting an uphill battle, Geiger said. The longer term solution is to focus on the basics that pigs need — feed, water, air and comfort.

Providing those resources is the daily standard on pig farms, but sometimes they fall out of balance. You will need to identify the trigger or the network of triggers that finally pushes the pig to the breaking point. That means observing the pigs as well as looking at the rearing conditions from a range of perspectives, such as a nutritionist’s and veterinarian’s perspective.

“The nutritionist will want to provide the optimal diet — and that’s the right diet for the right pig at the right age with the right intake,” Geiger added. You’ll need to determine if that’s actually happening. Have there been related stressors like an out-of-feed event?

From a production specialist’s point of view, is the ventilation system providing the optimal environment, including air-intake speeds and proper mixing? Also consider pig space allocations, not just floor space so that pigs can lie comfortably, but space to access feed and water.

“You also have to think of it from the perspective of a veterinarian, because health impacts the comfort of the animal,” Geiger said.

Finding the right fix will take time, he added. And, it won’t come down to just one thing; rather it will require a multi-disciplined approach.

“What it comes down to is the pig is the ultimate decision maker,” Geiger said. “At the end of the day, it’s not what’s on paper but what the pig actually receives and feels.” The pig will tell you if the conditions are not optimal.

 




Posted on September 26, 2019

tags: ,
RELATED NEWS



You must be logged in to edit your profile.

Google Translate is provided on this website as a reference tool. However, Poultry Health Today and its sponsor and affiliates do not guarantee in any way the accuracy of the translated content and are not responsible for any event resulting from the use of the translation provided by Google. By choosing a language other than English from the Google Translate menu, the user agrees to withhold all liability and/or damage that may occur to the user by depending on or using the translation by Google.