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Provision of straw by a foraging tower – effect on tail biting in weaners and fattening pigs

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

Background: Straw is one of the most effective rooting materials to reduce tail biting in pigs. A so-called foraging-tower (FT) provides only small quantities of straw compatible with liquid manure systems. The focus of the present study was on the effect of providing straw by FT in order to prevent tail biting in tail docked pigs. Four consecutive batches of 160 pigs, randomly divided into a straw (SG) and a control group (CG) were followed up from weaning to slaughter.

Results: Tail wounds (Score ≥ 2) were detected in 104 out of 12,032 single observations (SG n = 48; CG n = 56) in 9 pens (SG n = 4/32; CG n = 5/32) mainly focused on the fattening period of batch 2 due to a failure in the ventilation system. No significant differences concerning the distribution of Score ≥ 2 in pens of the SG and CG could be identified. Bite marks (Score 1) were documented in 395 observations at animal level (SG n = 197, CG n = 198) in all batches. In the nursery period, the air velocity significantly increased the chance that at least one pig per pen and week showed a tail lesion score ≥1 (p = 0.024). In the fattening period ammonia concentration was positively associated with tail lesions (p = 0.007).

Results: The investigation of blood samples revealed infections with Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae in all batches and a circulation of Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome Virus (NA-vaccine strain) and Porcine Circovirus Type 2 in two batches each. The average daily straw consumption was 3.5 g/pig (standard deviation (SD) = 1.1) during the rearing period and 31.9 g/pig (SD = 7.7) during the fattening period.

Conclusion: Due to the low prevalence of tail biting in all batches the effect of the FT tower could not be evaluated conclusively. The operation of the FT with an average daily straw consumption of 3.5 g/pig (SD = 1.1) during the rearing period and 31.9 g/pig (SD = 7.7) during the fattening period did not affect the weight gain. Exploratory behaviour seems to cause bite marks (score 1), which do not necessarily result in tail biting. The main outbreak of tail biting was probably triggered by a failure of the ventilation system, which resulted in a number of climatic and air quality changes including higher ammonia concentrations and sudden temperature changes.

Electronic supplementary material: The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s40813-017-0052-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

No MeSH data available.


Illustration of unit design in the rearing (above) and fattening barn (below) used in this study (not true to scale). The arrows show an option of dividing pigs of one rearing pen (20 pigs) into two fattening pens (2 × 10 pigs)
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Fig2: Illustration of unit design in the rearing (above) and fattening barn (below) used in this study (not true to scale). The arrows show an option of dividing pigs of one rearing pen (20 pigs) into two fattening pens (2 × 10 pigs)

Mentions: In total, 640 pigs in 32 rearing pens and 64 fattening pens were followed up from weaning to slaughter in four consecutive batches of 160 pigs each. At weaning 80 castrated male pigs and 80 female pigs of the medium weight group were randomly selected for the straw (SG) or control (CG) group, individually marked with a numbered ear tag and allocated to eight pens (20 pigs per pen) separated by gender. For the fattening period the pigs of each pen were randomly divided into two groups and placed in two neighbouring pens, fed by one feeding valve, in the fattening barn (16 pens, 10 pigs per pen). The unit design in the rearing and fattening barn is shown in Fig. 2.Fig. 2


Provision of straw by a foraging tower – effect on tail biting in weaners and fattening pigs
Illustration of unit design in the rearing (above) and fattening barn (below) used in this study (not true to scale). The arrows show an option of dividing pigs of one rearing pen (20 pigs) into two fattening pens (2 × 10 pigs)
© Copyright Policy - OpenAccess
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License 1 - License 2
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC5382410&req=5

Fig2: Illustration of unit design in the rearing (above) and fattening barn (below) used in this study (not true to scale). The arrows show an option of dividing pigs of one rearing pen (20 pigs) into two fattening pens (2 × 10 pigs)
Mentions: In total, 640 pigs in 32 rearing pens and 64 fattening pens were followed up from weaning to slaughter in four consecutive batches of 160 pigs each. At weaning 80 castrated male pigs and 80 female pigs of the medium weight group were randomly selected for the straw (SG) or control (CG) group, individually marked with a numbered ear tag and allocated to eight pens (20 pigs per pen) separated by gender. For the fattening period the pigs of each pen were randomly divided into two groups and placed in two neighbouring pens, fed by one feeding valve, in the fattening barn (16 pens, 10 pigs per pen). The unit design in the rearing and fattening barn is shown in Fig. 2.Fig. 2

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

Background: Straw is one of the most effective rooting materials to reduce tail biting in pigs. A so-called foraging-tower (FT) provides only small quantities of straw compatible with liquid manure systems. The focus of the present study was on the effect of providing straw by FT in order to prevent tail biting in tail docked pigs. Four consecutive batches of 160 pigs, randomly divided into a straw (SG) and a control group (CG) were followed up from weaning to slaughter.

Results: Tail wounds (Score ≥ 2) were detected in 104 out of 12,032 single observations (SG n = 48; CG n = 56) in 9 pens (SG n = 4/32; CG n = 5/32) mainly focused on the fattening period of batch 2 due to a failure in the ventilation system. No significant differences concerning the distribution of Score ≥ 2 in pens of the SG and CG could be identified. Bite marks (Score 1) were documented in 395 observations at animal level (SG n = 197, CG n = 198) in all batches. In the nursery period, the air velocity significantly increased the chance that at least one pig per pen and week showed a tail lesion score ≥1 (p = 0.024). In the fattening period ammonia concentration was positively associated with tail lesions (p = 0.007).

Results: The investigation of blood samples revealed infections with Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae in all batches and a circulation of Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome Virus (NA-vaccine strain) and Porcine Circovirus Type 2 in two batches each. The average daily straw consumption was 3.5 g/pig (standard deviation (SD) = 1.1) during the rearing period and 31.9 g/pig (SD = 7.7) during the fattening period.

Conclusion: Due to the low prevalence of tail biting in all batches the effect of the FT tower could not be evaluated conclusively. The operation of the FT with an average daily straw consumption of 3.5 g/pig (SD = 1.1) during the rearing period and 31.9 g/pig (SD = 7.7) during the fattening period did not affect the weight gain. Exploratory behaviour seems to cause bite marks (score 1), which do not necessarily result in tail biting. The main outbreak of tail biting was probably triggered by a failure of the ventilation system, which resulted in a number of climatic and air quality changes including higher ammonia concentrations and sudden temperature changes.

Electronic supplementary material: The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s40813-017-0052-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

No MeSH data available.