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DAFM Award

DAFM National Call 2014 14/S/871 Teagasc € 177,784

Project Title:

Environmental enrichment and nutritional strategies to reduce tail biting in pig farms

Project Coordinator:

Dr Keelin O'Driscoll

Project Abstract

Pigs are highly motivated to perform exploratory behaviours. In commercial facilities this behaviour is often directed towards other pigs, particularly in times of stress. This results in tail-biting, one of the most serious health, welfare and production problems in pig production. Docking of pigs’ tails is used as a control mechanism, yet even so, tail lesions due to biting are present in up to 70% of pigs. Moreover, routine tail-docking is forbidden in the EU. However, manipulable environmental enrichment reduces the amount and severity of tail-biting, and is a legal requirement. This project will investigate the efficacy of two enrichment materials on pig welfare: compressed straw and wood. Straw is extremely effective as enrichment; however the replacement rate of compressed blocks could be dependent on the diet of the pigs. Thus we will also investigate whether fibre level can impact the replacement rate of the straw. Wooden ‘chew’ posts are an alternative to straw, but there is little research on the most effective type of wood (e.g. hard or soft wood). Moreover, wood may be a cheaper option than straw in Ireland. Finally, we will investigate the feasibility of managing pigs with undocked tails using the most effective enrichment strategies identified.

Final Report:

Not available yet.