In spite of European legislation attempting to limit this practice, tail docking is nowadays the only preventive measure against tail biting which is widely adopted by farmers. Docking consists in amputating, usually without anaesthesia or analgesia, the distal part of the tail, in order to reduce its attractiveness and to sensitize it, increasing avoidance behaviour in the bitten pig. Tail docking results in both acute and chronic effects on pig welfare, and its effectiveness in preventing tail biting is limited, since it reduces the symptoms of a behavioural disorder, but does not address the underlying causes. The aim of the present paper is to review the available literature on the effects of tail docking on swine welfare. Although from a practical standpoint the welfare risks arising from tail docking may appear to be negligible compared to those arising during and after tail biting outbreaks, it should be considered that, apart from acute physiological and behavioural responses, tail docking may also elicit long-term effects on weight gain, tail stump sensitivity and animal freedom to express their normal behaviour. Such chronic effects have been poorly investigated so far. Besides, studies evaluating the effectiveness of anaesthetics or analgesic treatments are often conflicting. Within this framework, further research is recommended in order to reduce the acute and chronic pain and discomfort experienced by the animals, until preventive measures (e.g., environmental enrichment, stocking densities) are broadly adopted to prevent tail biting.

Tail docking in pigs: a review on its short- and long-term consequences and effectiveness in preventing tail biting

NANNONI, ELEONORA;SARDI, LUCA;MARTELLI, GIOVANNA
2014

Abstract

In spite of European legislation attempting to limit this practice, tail docking is nowadays the only preventive measure against tail biting which is widely adopted by farmers. Docking consists in amputating, usually without anaesthesia or analgesia, the distal part of the tail, in order to reduce its attractiveness and to sensitize it, increasing avoidance behaviour in the bitten pig. Tail docking results in both acute and chronic effects on pig welfare, and its effectiveness in preventing tail biting is limited, since it reduces the symptoms of a behavioural disorder, but does not address the underlying causes. The aim of the present paper is to review the available literature on the effects of tail docking on swine welfare. Although from a practical standpoint the welfare risks arising from tail docking may appear to be negligible compared to those arising during and after tail biting outbreaks, it should be considered that, apart from acute physiological and behavioural responses, tail docking may also elicit long-term effects on weight gain, tail stump sensitivity and animal freedom to express their normal behaviour. Such chronic effects have been poorly investigated so far. Besides, studies evaluating the effectiveness of anaesthetics or analgesic treatments are often conflicting. Within this framework, further research is recommended in order to reduce the acute and chronic pain and discomfort experienced by the animals, until preventive measures (e.g., environmental enrichment, stocking densities) are broadly adopted to prevent tail biting.
E. Nannoni; T. Valsami; L. Sardi; G. Martelli
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/214239
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