15 January 1999

Cut tail-biting with first-class welfare

PIG housing must be maintained at the right temperature and humidity if the seasonal rise in tail-biting in pigs is to be minimised, warn vets.

Yorks-based pig vet John Carr says fluctuations in temperature often put ventilation systems and insulation under pressure. When the housing environment becomes unstable, pigs become irritable and incidence of tail-biting can rise dramatically at this time of year.

"It would be a worthwhile exercise to check ventilation systems and ensure sufficient dry bedding – where used – is available in pens. Likewise, drinkers should be checked regularly, as these can be over-looked when staff are busy on the unit," says Dr Carr.

While poor housing conditions will suppress pig performance, it can also lead to other behavioural concerns such as ear sucking and flank biting, both of which increase stress and can devalue finished pigs, he warns.