Gentz, M., Lange, A., Zeidler, S. et al. 2019. Classification of pigs with tail lesions from different farrowing and rearing systems during rearing and fattening period. Animals 9(11), 949.

The aim of the present study was to classify and characterise pigs with tail lesions using a combined parameter based on the frequency and duration of tail lesions and to find out whether biologically relevant groups could be separated by cluster analysis. Pigs (n = 677, 50% docked, 50% undocked) from three farrowing systems, as follows: (1) Conventional farrowing crate (FC), (2) free farrowing (FF), and (3) a group housing lactating sows (GH), were divided into two rearing systems as follows: (1) A conventional system (CONV) and (2) a wean-to-finish (W-F) system. Within 18 assessment weeks, starting after weaning, animal tail lesions were recorded individually. The animals were characterised into five lesion groups, as follows: (I) No lesions to (V) many long lasting lesions. The separability of the predefined lesion groups was checked by an animal individual lesion parameter. By using a k-means cluster analysis, it was shown that the docking status was the mainly affected parameter on the tail lesions. The separation of the groups only succeeded for the most distinct groups, I and V. The high impact of the docking status and the reduction of tail lesions by more space allowance was shown. More characterising information for the individual pigs would improve the separability of the lesion groups.

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