“This guide aims to give practical advice to pig farmers surrounding the complex
issue of providing suitable environmental enrichment to pigs. It provides
useful information from the knowledge of farmers, researchers and scientific
literature on the different ways environmental enrichment can be provided for
differing types of housing and systems. The information is set out in sections
by housing type, and in each, the types of enrichments that are most suited
to each system are discussed, including their properties, how to present
the enrichment, quantities and practical considerations, such as ease of
installation, maintenance and costs.” (cited from the introduction in the guide).
The FareWellDock factsheets are out. Below you find the cover factsheet as well as the factsheets on tail docking, enrichment, health and the prediction of tail biting. This post shows images of the English versions, and links to the pdf version of the English factsheets, as well as all factsheets in Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, Italian, Norwegian and Swedish. Separate pages are available directly showing the factsheets in the other languages (Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, Italian, Norwegian and Swedish).
At present the FareWellDock website has 97 blog posts (like this one).
We are drafting our final report and finalising our publication list. Here you can find the FareWellDock publication list. At present we are heading towards 28 peer-reviewed scientific publications, 6 book chapters, 35 conference contributions, 16+ farm-magazine articles, 14 training sessions and several other communication activities (internet and radio).
FareWellDock’s final project meeting was a videoconference call dd Januari 16, 2017. The meeting was used to fine-tune final deliverables, esp. the factsheets and final report for ANIHWA. We decided to add local contacts to the translated factsheets, and to use the executive summary later to inform farm magazines about the FareWellDock results.
We also briefly discussed initiatives concerning the follow-up of the project, in particular the farewelldock network and the first post-project meeting.
This meeting is scheduled as a satellite meeting to the ISAE meeting in Aarhus on Aug 7, 2017. It will be a joint meeting with the GroupHouseNet project, and we are looking for sponsors to support the meeting, which will discuss mechanisms underlying tail biting in pigs and feather pecking in poultry, as well as aspects of early development of these abnormal behaviours.
• We modelled voluntary feed intake in clinically lame or tail bitten pigs.
• Age, sex, diagnosis, initial weight and eventual recovery affects feed intake.
• Feed intake starts decreasing 2–3 weeks before diagnosis.
• Feed intake decreases 10–99% from control levels in sick pigs.
• Anorexia is prolonged in lame animals not recovering to slaughter condition.
A decreased feed intake is considered one of the first signs of disease in farm animals. Feeding-related individual data collected by electronic feeding systems may thus be useful in detecting illness at an early stage. The aim of this study was to determine changes in individual-level voluntary feed intake in growing pigs before and after a bout of sickness modelled by clinical lameness or an acute tail (biting) lesion, which together count for a significant part of overall health problems in intensive pig production. The data consisted of individual records of health and day-level feed intake in fattening pigs between about 40 and 120 kg obtained from the Finnish progeny test farm. Feed was available ad libitum from automatic single-space feeders. Two time periods in relation to diagnosis (day 0), day −50 to 0 (pre-) and day 0 to +50 (post-), were modelled separately for both diagnoses using hierarchical linear models with random and repeated effects. All healthy animals in the affected animals’ pens were used as controls. The number of pigs in the different analyses were 243/551 (cases/controls, pre-tail lesion), 205/693 (post-tail lesion), 116/588 (pre-lameness) and 165/892 (post-lameness).
Feed intake in the study animals was affected by sex, weight at arrival to the farm, health status (lame or tail bitten case vs healthy control), eventual recovery (culled or dead vs recovering to slaughter condition), the day relative to diagnosis and approximate age (the day on the farm), with the four latter factors involved in multiple interactions. Feed intake started decreasing already 2–3 weeks pre-diagnosis in future lame or tail bitten animals, suggesting a common predisposing factor such as reactive coping. Feed intake decreased substantially (13–99%) from control levels in sick animals, with the level dependent on diagnosis, degree of eventual recovery and age. Lame animals ingested two to three times less than tail bitten ones at diagnosis. Within both diagnoses, culled-to-be animals ingested roughly half the relative amount of those recovering to slaughter condition, suggesting that relative feed intake at diagnosis may predict the outcome of disease. Younger animals were generally more severely affected than older ones. Anorexia was prolonged up to about 30 days in culled-to-be lame animals in contrast to all other groups modeled, which started recovery immediately upon diagnosis and initiated treatment. The observed changes and differences in feed intake may indicate differences in animal welfare.
Tail lesions are outcomes of tail biting behaviour and reflective of impaired welfare in pigs. This work is part of a study which aims to validate tail lesions as possible iceberg indicators to be included in the meat inspection process at slaughter (PIGWELFIND). Twenty farrow-to-finish Irish pig farms were visited. On each farm, 18 randomly selected pens of first (n=6) and second (n=6) weaner stage and finisher (n=6) pigs were inspected. Pigs were observed for 10 min and the number of pigs with tail, ear, flank and skin lesions and the number showing signs of other health deviations (e.g. lameness, sickness) were recorded. All occurrence behaviour sampling was used to record frequency of coughing and sneezing (5 min) and tail-, ear-, and flank biting, fighting and mounting behaviour (5 min). Welfare conditions were expressed as percentage of pigs in a pen and behaviours were expressed per pig to correct for different numbers of pigs per pen (32.1±16.0 pigs/pen). Mixed model equation methods were used to analyse the effect of welfare conditions and behaviours on percentage of pigs with tail lesions. Farms and stage were included as fixed effects and welfare and behaviour indicators were included as covariates. Pen within stage by farm was included as random effect. Results for covariates are presented as regression coefficients. On average, 7.4% of pigs in a pen had tail lesions. Preliminary results show that the percentage of pigs with tail lesions was greater for pens with a higher percentage of pigs with skin lesions but lower for pens with a higher percentage of sick pigs (P<0.05). Furthermore, the percentage of pigs with tail lesions was positively associated with tail biting (P<0.001).
Results suggest that tail lesions may have potential as iceberg indicators for pig welfare. However, more research is needed to further elucidate the nature of these associations.
A recent paper by Valros et al. (2015) shows evidence for changes in monoamine metabolism in the brains of pigs affected by tail biting, both in the victims and the biting pigs.
Tail biting in pigs is a major welfare problem within the swine industry. Even though there is plenty of information on housing and management-related risk factors, the biological bases of this behavioral problem are poorly understood. The aim of this study was to investigate a possible link between tail biting, based on behavioral recordings of pigs during an ongoing outbreak, and certain neurotransmitters in different brain regions of these pigs. We used a total of 33 pigs at a farm with a long-standing problem of tail biting. Three equally big behavioral phenotypic groups, balanced for gender and age were selected, the data thus consisting of 11 trios of pigs. Two of the pigs in each trio originated from the same pen: one tail biter (TB) and one tail biting victim (V). A control (C) pig was selected from a pen without significant tail biting in the same farm room. We found an effect of tail biting behavioral phenotype on the metabolism of serotonin and dopamine, with a tendency for a higher 5-HIAA level in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) of TB compared to the other groups, while V pigs showed changes in both serotonin and dopamine metabolism in the striatum (ST) and limbic cortex (LC). Trp:BCAA and Trp:LNAA correlated positivelywith serotonin and 5-HIAA in the PFC, but only in TB pigs. Furthermore, in both ST and LC, several of the neurotransmitters and their metabolites correlated positively with the frequency of bites received by the pig. This is the first study indicating a link between brain neurotransmission and tail biting behavior in pigs with TB pigs showing a tendency for increased PFC serotonin metabolism and V pigs showing several changes in central dopamine and serotonin metabolism in their ST and LC, possibly due to the acute stress caused by being bitten.
Reference: Valros, A., Palander, P., Heinonen, M., Munsterhjelm, C., Brunberg, E., Keeling, L., & Piepponen, P. (2015). Evidence for a link between tail biting and central monoamine metabolism in pigs (Sus scrofa domestica). Physiology & Behavior.