Tail biting is a very frustrating issue for pigs and pig farmers. Not only does it harm the individual pigs and impact their welfare, but it can also cut into the profitability of the farming venture. It is almost impossible to control once it begins, and so a measure of prevention is worth far more than all of the remedies available.
Understanding pigs’ tendencies to tail bite starts, logically, with the “why” of it all. Just why do pigs take a liking to the taste of other pigs’ tails? They don’t. It is not an issue of taste preferences. Tail biting can occur for such reasons as:
- Gut-related diseases
- Inadequate space around feeding and watering stations
- Draftiness or incorrect temperatures (too hot or too cold)
- Nutritional deficiency
- Light levels
- Tail length variations within a group, and many other factors
What is most obvious about all of this is that tail biting tends to originate for two very simple reasons: something wrong in the housing or something wrong with feeding and watering. The trouble is that the “something wrong,” may vary even in a single group of pigs.
For example, one pig’s idea of overcrowding may be entirely different than another pig’s thoughts on the matter. One might tolerate a bit of a wait at the watering station, while another will bite instantly if there is an impediment to their getting to the water right away.
What can a farmer do to address the issue? They must always remove pigs with the most serious bite injuries to discourage the further spread of the behavior. Preventing it is best, and that can be done with better enrichment options, such as the installation of tools that allow pigs to bite “things” instead of one another. Another is to reduce stocking density and spread them out into larger spaces.
Both solutions are easily implemented, along with improved feeding and water systems, through IDS Pigs and the bespoke housing available.