12 December 1997

Ban on tail docking might hit pig welfare

TAIL biting in pigs is on the increase and quality assurance schemes which prohibit tail docking on farm could compromise animal welfare.

The warning comes from Humberside pig vet Mark White, who is concerned that pressure from retailers will see quality assurance schemes ban or restrict tail docking.

He believes the rise in tail biting may have been caused by the variable weather, which is known to upset pigs generally.

"Tail biting even occurs in straw bedded yards, and has been seen in baby piglets in outdoor arks. To say that pig producers should sort out the pigs environment implies tail biting is predictable. But it is an unpredictable and widespread condition," says Mr White.

"Tail docking is fully justified and should not be banned. It is not done to make pigs look pretty. If tail docking is banned or restricted it will be worse for animal welfare." &#42