Tail Docking In Piglets - Eastern Mirror
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Tail Docking in Piglets

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By EMN Updated: Apr 05, 2024 11:11 pm

Introduction

Tail docking in piglets is a farm procedure in which the tail of the piglet is removed by surgical means or other forms to control tail-biting behaviour of piglets from one another. Usually, the tail is cut off using a sharp knife at approximately 6 days of age. Other method of tail docking includes heated docking (the tail is severed using a cautery iron) and rubber ring tail docking (a constrictive rubber ring is applied to the tail). The reason behind the practice of tail docking is to avoid piglets biting each other’s tail which can lead to infection, abscesses in the spine, severe pain, lameness and carcass contamination. The potential predisposing factors include crowding, poor ventilation, nutrition and health. The tail should be docked between 1.5 and 2.5 cm from the base of the tail, in between vertebra. After tail docking a disinfectant should be applied to the wound before letting the piglets into the pen. Although routine tail docking is not legally permitted in some countries proper information should be obtained by the owner before putting into practice. Tail docking should be carried out legally by a competent, trained operator before the seventh day of life or by a veterinarian.

Advantages of tail docking

  • As tail biting is avoided, the increased rate of infection and other health problems in bitten pigs is avoided.
  • Treatment cost with antibiotics to treat bitten big thereby increasing medical cost and labour demand due to medication is avoided.
  • Tail docking reduces the risk of locomotion disorders in which the spinal cord is injured during biting.
  • Severe animal welfare problems and other economic losses are avoided.

Only trained personnel or a person with proper knowledge should perform tail docking using clean, sharp equipment and procedures so that minimum pain is inflected as well as prevent infections. Topical anaesthetic administration prior to tail docking should be performed to minimise pain to the animal. Correct handling procedures, restraining method and application of disinfectant on wounds should be applied so that stress, injury and infections is minimised. After tail docking, monitoring of piglets for any signs of infections should be observed and remedial measures to be taken accordingly.

Conclusions

Tail biting among grouped piglets is very common and has been identified by farmers as one of the main welfare problems in pig production. As tail biting increases risk for infection and carcass contamination it becomes a welfare and economic issue on how to minimise the problem. Providing straw and sufficient light in the pig sty has been found to reduce tail biting to a great extent. Studies have also shown that providing proper feeding space reduces tail biting in undocked pigs. Tail docking is a simple procedure and when performed responsibly for the welfare of the pigs in mind can contribute to a healthier and manageable pig farming experience.

Dr. Sarendi Walling

ACTO (Animal Science)

KVK, Mokokchung

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By EMN Updated: Apr 05, 2024 11:11:38 pm
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