October 2022

Abstract: A case of tail-biting on a multi-site swine operation in Ontario

This case study describes a severe tail-biting event on a multi-site swine operation in Ontario and outlines the management strategies implemented in an attempt to control the problem. An established social order was clearly present before the tail-biting event occurred. Over 40% of tail-docked pigs in 3 of 8 grower-finisher barns were severely affected, leading to higher mortality and increased numbers of pigs re-housed in hospital pens. Environmental factors, management practices, and animal health in the barns experiencing the tail-biting event are described, including detection of the mycotoxin deoxynivalenol in corn at > 2 ppm. Changes implemented in response to tail-biting included altering the phase-feeding schedule, adding enrichment devices, and increasing surveillance. The subsequent cohort of pigs was followed through the finisher barns and did not engage in the same severity or prevalence of tail-biting as the previous cohort of pigs which experienced the tail-biting event. Key clinical message: No single factor was identified as the initiating cause for the severe tail-biting event. The subsequent cohort of pigs in 4 barns of the same operation were monitored for tail-biting from entry until market, and the incidence of tail-biting was very low.

Henry M, O'Sullivan TL, Shoveller AK, Niel L, Friendship RM
A case of tail-biting on a multi-site swine operation in Ontario.
Can Vet J. 2022;63(8):835-840. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35919461/