Inspiring pilot farms

Rearing pigs with intact tails: feed-back from commercial farms in Spain

The lack of cases of successful farms raising pigs with entire tail makes farmers, technicians, and veterinarians sceptical about implementing these measures on commercial farms.

In this section we describe the monitoring and experience of commercial farms that have taken the step of raising pigs with entire tails.

 Project financed through the operation 01.02.01 of Technological Transfer of the Rural Development Program of Catalonia 2014-2020

   

In recent years there has been a growing political pressure regarding the implementation of manipulable material on pig farms and the prohibition of routine tail docking stipulated in Directive 2008/120 / EC. Since 2016, the interest of the EU for the effective implementation of the regulation has been growing, and audits have been carried out. Currently, in the EU, several guidelines have already been published to prevent tail-biting, and thus facilitate the path to compliance with the EU regulations.

Despite increasing legislative pressure, most pig producers report great difficulties to implement these measures. The reasons why most farms continue to raise tail-docked pigs are diverse, but most converge towards a common concern: the fear of taking substantial risk. The first risk is related to the nature of this behavioural problem: tail-biting is a multifactorial problem, often sporadic and difficult to foresee. The second risk is related to the supervision of the animals: stop docking the tails implies having a very good management and more time invested in the observation of the animals. The third risk is related to the financial costs involved in preventing tail biting.

The lack of cases of successful farms raising pigs with entire tail makes farmers, technicians, and veterinarians sceptical about implementing these measures on commercial farms.

In this section we describe the monitoring and experience of commercial farms that have taken the step of raising pigs with entire tails.

 

  • What was the frequency of tail biting?
  • Before stopping tail docking: reduce chronic risk factors
  • Enrichment material: a significant cost.
  • The novelty factor: a key element to prevent tail biting
  • Anticipating an episode of tail biting: observe the animals and identify changes in pig behaviour.

 

 

Project financed through the operation 01.02.01 of Technological Transfer of the Rural Development Program of Catalonia 2014-2020