Factors that affect tail biting in pigs

Project goal

This project has two objectives. These are:

  1. Identification of genetic factors affecting tail biting on farm
  2. Estimation of genetic association between incidence of tail biting and performance of pigs
Project summary

Tail-biting is a pig behaviour that causes pain, injury, and sometimes even mortality in its victims. There are a number of factors that can contribute to this behaviour, and this project explored those.

Value for producers:

  • Improved welfare due to better understanding of how to reduce the incidence of tail-biting without being reliant on practices like teeth cutting and tail docking
  • Potential for reduced labour requirements for husbandry practices like teeth cutting and tail docking


  • The incidence of tail-biting victims was found to be heritable, suggesting genetic differences between sires can be used to select pigs that are less likely to be victims of tail biting. Heritability differed depending on the model used
  • Factors like season/temperature, and ventilation were found to affect tail biting
Research enquiries