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Vet J. 2012 Oct;194(1):77-83. doi: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2012.03.004. Epub 2012 Apr 12.

Prevalence of risk factors for tail biting on commercial farms and intervention strategies.

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School of Clinical Veterinary Science, Dolberry Building, Langford House, University of Bristol, Langford, Somerset BS40 5DU, UK.


A husbandry advisory tool (HAT) was devised to help pig producers and their advisors identify and minimise possible risk factors for tail biting in finishing pigs. The prevalence of 83 risk factors identified from the literature and expert opinion was recorded on 65 commercial pig farms in England between May 2007 and July 2009. Those considered most important were associated with atmosphere/environment, environmental enrichment, the provision of food/drink and animal health factors. Forty-six farms received advice on minimising these risks and, of these, 27 also received a financial incentive to encourage the uptake of advice. A reduction in risk factors was observed on 42/57 farms visited at the end of the study, with the greatest reduction occurring on the farms that had been incentivised. However, farms not receiving advice also had reduced risk factors associated with atmosphere/environment and stocking density over the course of the study. In conclusion, while some risk factors are structural and require substantial capital investment to change, a significant reduction in the risk of tail biting can be achieved on many farms through the systematic evaluation and modification of management practices.

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