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Tail docking and tail biting

Tail biting in pigs is a problem of modern pig production and can occur at all stages in the production cycle. It leads to tail damage of varying severity (see Hunter et al., 1999) and can include swelling and infection, which travels up the spinal cord causing abscessesin the lungs, and pyaemia (a type of septicaemia causing widespread abscessesin the organs (see Schroder-Pedersen and Simonsen, 2001 for full details). Tail biting is therefore a serious welfare issue. In order to reduce the risk of tail biting in modern pig production systems, producers dock the tails of pigs, either with sidecutting pliers or gasheated cautery clippers. Tail docking does not eliminate tail biting however, and is a procedure that causes acute and transient pain, with potential long term chronic discomfort.

Tail docking and tail biting

Full technical information sheet. Suitable for readers with some prior knowledge or wanting to learn about the topic in more detail. 

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