Solving Tail-Biting Problems

From Pork Information Gateway. Todd See gives an overview of the environmental, management and nutritional causes of tail-biting.
calendar icon 5 November 2008
clock icon 2 minute read

Outbreaks of tail-biting occur in intensive pork production when a pig bites or chews on another pigs tail leading to a wound and bleeding. This abnormal social behaviour is usually associated with deficiencies in the pigs environment, management or nutrition.

Picture: National Pork Board

To solve a tail-biting problem promptly remove and treat the tail-bitten pig(s). Then review the following questions and determine the most likely causes. If tail-biting continues check other likely causes until the problem disappears.

Environmental Causes of Tail-Biting

  • Is the building temperature appropriate for the age and weight of the pigs?
  • Is the ventilation system functioning properly?
  • Are pigs following appropriate dunging behavior?
  • Is the building air quality (ammonia and hydrogen sulphide levels) satisfactory?
  • Are pens dry?

Management Causes of Tail-Biting

  • Are pigs overcrowded?
  • Can pigs lie comfortably?
  • Has mixing of pigs between pens occurred?
  • Is the electrical supply properly grounded and stray voltage eliminated?

Nutritional Causes of Tail-Biting

  • Was the feed properly formulated for levels of salt and other vitamins and minerals?
  • Are there a sufficient number of drinkers with adequate flow rate per pen?
  • Is there adequate feeder space?

October 2008
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