The DG Health and Food Safety has published "Overview report: Study Visits on Rearing Pigs with Intact Tails". The objective of this report is to provide an overview of good practices for the production of pigs with entire tails and highlight the reasons why this is not more widely practised. These were identified in the course of DG Health and Food Safety study visits to countries which do not perform routine tail docking of pigs.
The Member States' national experts who attended the study visits were presented with facts and solutions which contradicted their beliefs that avoidance of tail docking is not possible.
There was a general consensus among them that mutilations mask problems and that rearing pigs with intact tails requires stress to be lowered in order to reduce the underlying causes of tail biting.
Good practices identified at farm level that contributed to the production of pigs with entire tails included: management of enrichment materials, feed, air quality, competition between animals and health status. In addition to the above, farmers must rapidly identify the tail biter and thereby prevent outbreaks of tail biting when they first appear.
High standards of health, a good level of environmental conditions and management in farms result in a lower use of antibiotics, which is also important in the framework of antimicrobial resistance and human health.
In order to maintain high standards of pig welfare, on-going support to farmers from advisory organisations and private veterinarians together with funding provided by various Government welfare schemes also play an important role.
Germany, Denmark, France and the Netherlands are incorporating lessons learned during the study visits into measures to reduce routine tail docking of pigs, which are already underway. Ireland has actions planned which includes the supervision of farmers' risk assessment for tail biting, while five Member States are relying more on educational campaigns. Other Member States are considering strategies to address the tail docking issue but provided no concrete proposals.
February 2017/ DG Health and Food Safety/ European Union.