Curly tails: the Dutch approach

M. Kluivers-Poodt, N. Dirx, C.M.C. Van der Peet, W.W. Ursinus, J.E. Bolhuis, G. van der Peet

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingAbstract


Despite EU legislation and societal concerns, in current pig farming, most piglets are still tail docked. The
pig farming sector would prefer to stop tail docking. However, without additional preventive measures,
tail biting will likely increase. Several Dutch parties have designed the Declaration of Dalfsen, containing
a careful road map towards curly tails. This map comprises a demonstration project, development of a
toolbox and knowledge exchange, and aims at closing the gap between science and practice and relieving
the anxiety and scepticism about keeping pigs with long tails in current systems. In 2014, every six weeks
a batch of twelve undocked litters was included in the demonstration. Circumstances were optimized as
much as possible, and additional enrichment was provided. Caretakers were coached to recognize early
signs of animals at risk. Nonetheless, tail damage appeared. Mostly in individual animals, but occasionally
as an outbreak at pen level (for which predictive correlates are searched). Remarkably, at three weeks of
age, several piglets already showed bite marks at the tail. Attitudes of the caretakers changed during the
year to a higher level of alertness and an active approach towards required management changes. A traffic
light system was implemented to safeguard attention towards groups at risk. The use of some enrichment
materials encountered practical problems, and labour required for adequate monitoring and providing
materials was higher than expected. The toolbox is still being developed and tested, describing effective
curative measures. A network of farmers keeping pigs with long tails was formed, to support exchange of
knowledge and experiences. All knowledge gained will feed an educational programme for pig farmers and
farm advisors to enable a responsible transition towards longer tails. The key to success of this approach is
that pig farmers are at the steering wheel, with guidance from actors in the chain.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBook of Abstracts of the 66th Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science (EAAP)
EditorsEAAP scientific committee
Place of PublicationWageningen, the Netherlands
PublisherWageningen Academic Publishers
Number of pages1
ISBN (Electronic)9789086868162
ISBN (Print)9789086862696
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventEAAP - 66th Annual Meeting 2015 - Warsaw, Poland
Duration: 31 Aug 20154 Sep 2015


ConferenceEAAP - 66th Annual Meeting 2015


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