Tail Biting Solutions

13 September 2017

Tail biting affects pigs of all ages and can be the result of a number of factors such as overcrowding, disease, malnutrition and boredom.

Here are some suggestions to combat the problem:

1. Apply Scarper! Sprayed on the tails of pigs Scarper Vice Buster provides a pungent smell and taste, this powerful mixture discourages the pigs from biting and breaks the habit reducing cannibalism. Scarper Clear works in a similar way providing a bitter dis-taste to deter the animals from biting but is odour and stain free, perfect for show animals.

2. Dietary imbalance is a major cause of tail biting - protein and calcium imbalances in particular can cause problems. Too much protein means that it needs to be excreted which places a strain on water and electrolyte balance, therefore, blood from the tail becomes an excellent source of electrolytes. If calcium levels are too high in conjunction with excess protein, renal dysfunction can occur which leads to further electrolyte imbalance and more tail biting as a result.

3. High fat diets and lipids in particular can provoke tail biting. When tail biting occurs, it is recommended to remove pure lipid sources as a first measure.

4. Increasing dietary electrolytes can help reduce tail biting, often because of the reasons highlighted above. There are many to choose from but it’s important to ensure that they are pure of contaminants as some may come from non- feed related industries.

5. Adding fibre to the diet can significantly reduce the tendency for tail biting as it also reduces hunger and therefore the animal is not tail biting to find nutrients. Pig diets should contain at least 3 to 5 percent dietary fibre. Fibre can be increased if tail biting doesn’t reduce on the above percentages.

6. Ensure that all pigs are receiving enough water. Test water pressure systems, check drinkers daily and adjust heights if necessary. If grouped pigs don’t consume enough non-saline water they can develop unconventional habits such as tail biting.

For more information and for advice on feather pecking please visit the Scarper website