EFSA has published an opinion on the issue of tail docking in pigs. Tail docking is a procedure carried out to reduce the risk of tail biting, one of the major issues in modern pig breeding. This behaviour can have several causes, including a lack of materials that pigs need to satisfy a range of behavioural needs, for example straw, hay, silage, compost and peat. Addressing tail biting will help to reduce the need for tail docking.EFSA’s experts have identified the relationship between:Risk factors, such as the inadequacy or absence of functional manipulable material or poor health.
Welfare consequences, such as inability to explore, forage or nest; competition for manipulable material; and injuries or pain due to tail-biting.
Animal and non-animal based indicators, such as tail, ear or flank biting; increase of skin lesions or manipulation of penmates and pen furniture.
To perform the assessment, EFSA experts made a statistical analysis using information from available databases. As the data available were not specifically designed to evaluate risk factors for tail-biting, they also propose a model for data collection across the EU. This model will provide access to better information on the risk factors for tail-biting and ultimately improve risk assessment.This opinion will contribute to the efforts of the European Commission to implement minimum standards for the protection of pigs.