Scientists in the Netherlands have established a demonstration project to help the Dutch industry move away from tail-docking by developing practical strategies for “intervention-free” pig farming.
The demonstration project is based at VIC Sterksel, the country’s Swine Innovation Centre, as part of a widely-backed industry programme coordinated by Wageningen University. The aim is to create a “safety net so that a tail biting outbreak can be stopped as quickly as possible” while also setting up networks to find practical solutions to the problem.
“Once every six weeks, the tails of piglets from a number of litters are left intact,” it is reported in the latest edition of the VIC Sterksel newsletter. “All available knowledge within the current system is used to prevent tail biting and to intervene in the appropriate manner when tail biting does occur.
“The study was set up in the existing stall design, without significant modifications, to ensure correspondence with current practices as much as possible. The available knowledge is applied within this framework.
“The objective is to gain greater insight into what the possible risks are, when there is a greater likelihood of tail biting outbreaks (e.g. with a change in the weather), and to learn how these may be prevented. We aim to develop instruments and recommendations that will enable us to give practical advice in the future.”