Technology used combat outbreaks of tail biting in pigs

Tail biting in pigs is a wellbeing, welfare and financial problem for business

calendar icon 24 March 2022

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A significant-tech procedure involving 3D cameras could enable farmers spot the early warning signals of tail biting in pigs – a health and welfare worry in afflicted pigs and an financial problem for field.

New investigation by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) has disclosed that pigs keep their tails down in opposition to their overall body when tail biting is about to get started. Experiments noticed 3D cameras placed over feeders to mechanically measure no matter if their tails had been up and curly, or held down.

The investigate was carried out employing 23 groups of weaner-grower pigs which ended up regularly scored for any indications of tail injury. The animals were being intently monitored and tail biting was stopped as soon as an outbreak was detected.

Grant Walling, director of science and technologies at JSR Genetics, mentioned that any resource that can help minimize or eradicate tail biting is a reward to the whole offer chain. This technological innovation has the opportunity to forecast potential victims and gives options to update and involve data inside choice tactics to lessen the incidence of tail-biting in potential generations.

Courtesy of SRUC

Tail biting outbreaks

Outbreaks of tail biting have no solitary induce – there are a selection of contributory things that could include things like aspects of the pig’s genetics, nutrition, atmosphere and management. Outbreaks can occur unpredictably and swiftly spread. Tail docking can be employed as a evaluate to manage tail biting, having said that this is no for a longer time viewed as an acceptable program resolution to protect against from outbreaks.

The research, which has been revealed in the scientific journal PLOS One, was the consequence of a collaboration in between SRUC animal behaviour and welfare specialists, Scottish farm engineering company Innovent Engineering Ltd, pig source chain partners together with feed firm Harbro and Sainsbury’s supermarkets, and the Agricultural Engineering Precision Innovation Centre (Agri-EPI).

“Tail biting effects in pain and sickness for bitten pigs and severe economic losses for farmers as an infection via tail wounds outcomes in abattoir condemnation of meat. This condemnation by yourself can expense a producer up to 1 per cent of the carcase worth and a decline for the processer of 1 for each cent of saleable carcase from the pig,” said guide writer Dr Rick D’Eath from SRUC.

There are also unquantified on-farm fees as a end result of the amplified labour and veterinary treatment plans resulting from an outbreak. Tail docking of piglets is partly powerful at minimizing tail biting in afterwards lifestyle, but is noticed as an undesirable mutilation and its regimen use is banned in the EU.

This ‘proof of concept’ will now be developed in a adhere to-on Innovate British isles-funded job identified as “TailTech”, which will gather info from more diverse pig farms and establish and check a prototype early warning system. It strengthens the consortium with extra pig supply chain companions: pig breeders JSR Genetics, engineers David Ritchie Ltd, pig vets Garth Pig Follow and farmers’ co-operative Scottish Pig Producers.

Dave Stephenson, head of Pig and Poultry at Harbro, reported, “TailTech is a further instance of a essential initiative from the British pig business developed to drive higher welfare requirements on farm. We have been delighted to lover fellow organisations from across the supply chain in seizing the extensive prospects that know-how can bring to boost disorders for the animals we feed on a every day foundation.”

Innovent Engineering Ltd already generates a digicam-based pig weighing system Qscan (bought internationally by SKOV as ProGrow), and the tail-biting detection process will be developed as an increase-on to that technological innovation.

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