1st Page

Journal of Animal Science Abstract - Animal Production

Using data from electronic feeders on visit frequency and feed consumption to indicate tail biting outbreaks in commercial pig production1


This article in JAS

  1. Vol. 91 No. 6, p. 2879-2884
    unlockOPEN ACCESS
    Received: Sept 11, 2012
    Accepted: Feb 21, 2013
    Published: November 25, 2014

    2 Corresponding author(s):

  1. A. Wallenbeck 2 and
  2. L. J. Keeling
  1. Department of Animal Environment and Health, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, P.O. Box 7068, SE-750 07 Uppsala, Sweden


The long term aim with this study was to identify predictors or early indicators of tail biting outbreaks using registrations from electronic feeders. This study is based on information about daily frequency of feeder visits (DFV) and daily feed consumption (DFC) recorded in electronic feeders from 460 noncastrated boars in tail biting pens (TB pens, n = 21) and matched control pens (Con pens, n = 21) from 10 wk before to 10 wk after the first injured tail in the pen. The results showed lower average DFV among pigs in TB pens compared with pigs in Con pens 6 to 9 wk before the start of the tail biting outbreak (first treatment for tail damage due to tail biting; P ≤ 0.1, df = 487) but a greater DFV for tail biting victims 2 to 5 wk before the start of the tail biting outbreak compared both to other pigs in the TB pen and to pigs in the Con pen (P < 0.1, df = 6,500). Tail biting victims had decreased DFC during and after the tail biting outbreak [wk 0 to 2 after the tail biting outbreak (P < 0.1, df = 6,500)]. In conclusion, information from electronic feeders can be used for surveillance of tail biting outbreaks in pigs. Due to common casual factors, low feeding frequencies observed on the group level can predict future tail biting in the pen as early as 9 wk before the first tail injuries. Moreover, increased feeding frequencies for individual pigs in potential tail biting pens may predict which pigs will be become the victims in the tail biting outbreak. The results further support previous findings that pigs with tail injuries due to tail biting consume decreased amounts of feed.

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Copyright © 2013. American Society of Animal Science