Scientific Opinion concerning a Multifactorial approach on the use of animal and non-animal-based measures to assess the welfare of pigs

E. Authie, C. Berg, A. Bøtner, H. Browman, I. Capua, A.A. de Koeijer, K. Depner, M. Domingo, S. Edwards, C. Fourichon, F. Koenen, S. More, M.A.B. Raj, L. Sihvonen, H.A.M. Spoolder, J.A. Stegeman, H.H. Thulke, I. Vågsholm, A. Velarde, P. WillebergS. Zientara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleProfessional

Abstract

Pigs have a need for manipulable materials to satisfy a range of behavioural needs, which can be different in different classes of pig. When these needs are not met, a range of adverse welfare consequences result, one of these being an increased risk for tail-biting in weaners and rearing pigs. The ability to control the risk of tail- biting is essential when aiming to avoid tail-docking. Based on available scientific information this Opinion identifies the multiple interactions between risk factors, welfare consequences and animal and non-animal-based measures on the two subjects requested (i) the absence of functional manipulable materials, for pigs at different stages in life and (ii) tail-biting, for weaners and rearing pigs only. An attempt is made to quantify the relationships between the identified interactions by carrying out a statistical analysis of information from available databases, those being an international dataset collected using the Welfare Quality® protocol, which was not designed to evaluate risk factors for tail-biting and therefore, it had limitations in fitness for this analysis, and a large Finnish dataset with undocked pigs. Based on the current state of knowledge, the AHAW Panel proposes two simple tool-boxes for on farm use to assess (i) the functionality of the supplied manipulable material and (ii) the presence and strength of risk factors for tail biting. Both proposed tool-boxes include a combination of the most important resource-based and animal-based measures. Further development and validation of decision–support tools for customised farm assessment is strongly recommended and a proposal for harmonised data collection across the range of European farming circumstances is presented. A series of further recommendations are made by the AHAW Panel.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3702
Number of pages101
JournalEFSA Journal
Volume12
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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