Occurence of tail and ear bite injuries in a Hungarian complex pig farm
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Abnormal oral manipulation, such as tail-, ear-, and flank-biting are among the most serious behaviour problems in modern pig husbandry. They not only affect the welfare of animals, but also have economic consequences. The prevalence of tail-, ear-, and flank-bite damage was estimated in a 1200 sow farrow-to-finish commercial farm in Hungary were pigs grouped by age. A total of 16,023 individuals were observed, of which 4,679 were housed in the batteries and 11,344 were housed in the fattening barns. In the batteries, the prevalence of tail-bitten and ear-bitten piglets in the different age groups ranged from 2.6 to 15.18%, 10.77 to 56.87%, respectively. The likelihood of tail injuries increased with the age of the animals, while the likelihood of ear injuries gradually decreased with piglet’s age. No flank injuries were observed in piglets from the batteries. In the fattening barns, the prevalence of tail and ear injuries in the different age groups was between 2.73 and 6.1%, and between 3.38 and 58.16%, respectively. Flank biting appeared only in older animals, from 156 days of age, at a much lower frequency (1.96 to 3.26%) than the other injuries studied. Some elements of the housing and feeding technology applied in this farm could enhance the occurrence of abnormal oral bite behaviour in pigs. Changing from wet to granulate feed and replacing the grid flooring with solid flooring covered with straw litter could lead to a decline in the incidence of biting.
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