Elective husbandry procedures
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Husbandry refers to the care, cultivation and breeding of animals. Elective husbandry procedures are only performed to prevent potential adverse health and welfare outcomes.
The Model Code of Practice outlines the requirements for elective husbandry procedures. In certain circumstances, the Model Code requires pain relief for pigs.
Most pig producers go beyond these requirements to ensure the maximum care and welfare.
Australia is one of the few countries that does not routinely castrate all male pigs. Although, it is sometimes necessary to meet consumer requirements.
New technologies allow pig producers to avoid physical castration by using a vaccination against boar taint. Boar taint is an offensive odour and/or taste that can occur in pork from non-castrated male pigs.
Ear notching can be used to identify pigs (and other animals). It helps producers identify and monitor the growth rate of pigs. Although, it is not used on all farms.
Ear notching involves pliers that remove a small piece of the ear.
Nose ringing is uncommon in Australia. It is sometimes a last resort used to prevent adverse impacts to the environment where pigs are kept outside.
Teeth clipping helps prevent injury to other piglets and udders of nursing sows. It is only done when husbandry issues occur in individual litters of piglets. It is only the very tips of the needle sharp eye teeth that are ever clipped.
Some farms may cut a pig’s tail short to prevent pigs biting and eating each other. What starts out as rough play may end up in tail biting down to the pig’s rump.
A pig’s tail does not have nerves for most of its length, so farmers only dock the tail where there are no nerves. So when a pig decides to bite another’s tail, the pig being bitten reacts and won’t let other pigs continue to bite it.
Tusk trimming of boars is necessary where injury to people or other animals is likely to occur. It should be conducted using a special type of wire called embryotomy wire, with the tusk severed cleanly above the gum.
The boar should be appropriately restrained, and if necessary, anaesthetised for restraint.
The tusk does not have sensory nerves, therefore pain relief is not required.