Naya, A., Traulsen, I., Gertz, M. et al. 2019. Is tail biting in growing pigs reduced by a prolonged suckling period? Applied Animal Behaviour Science 211, 41-46.
It was the aim of the study to investigate the effect of a prolonged suckling period and group housing before weaning on tail biting in undocked nursery pigs. To do this, experiments with three treatment groups were investigated. In the first group, pigs were conventionally housed in pens with farrowing crates for a four-week suckling period (SH-4). In the second group, suckling was prolonged to five weeks whereas housing was the same as in the first group (SH-5). The animals of the third group were kept in a group housing system for six sows and their piglets during a five-week suckling period (GH-5). At weaning, piglets were moved to conventional rearing pens in which two litters of the same treatment group were mixed together. Scoring of tail lesions and tail losses was carried out once a week from birth to end of rearing at the level of the individual animal. Significant effects on tail lesions were found for week after weaning (p < 0.001), and interaction of batch and treatment group (p < 0.001). Tail losses were also significantly affected by the interaction of batch and treatment group (p < 0.001). In conclusion, batch had a stronger effect on tail biting than treatment group did and no clear statement about the relation between treatment group and tail biting can be made.