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Does a higher content of fibre in the piglet diet have an influence on tail biting in growing pigs?

Naya, Ashley, Gertz, Marvin, Hasler, Mario, Große Beilage, Elisabeth, Krieter, Joachim
Livestock science 2019 v.223 pp. 133-137
dietary fiber, finishing, males, piglets, tail, tail biting, weaning, weight gain
The aim of the study was to investigate the influence of a higher content of soluble dietary fibre in the diet of growing pigs on tail biting. Pig groups were of equally distributed mixed gender and males were castrated during the first days of life. Two treatment groups were investigated over nine batches with on average 194.4 (SD 14.0) pigs per batch. One treatment group (n = 810) received a conventional diet (control) from 29 to 51 days of age. The other treatment group (n = 821) was fed with a commercially available dietary diet (fibre) wherein levels of soluble dietary fibre had been increased by 0.5 (Piglet-Growing-Food-I) respectively 1.6 (Piglet-Growing-Food-II) percentage points. Tail lesions and tail losses were scored once a week and weight was recorded at pen level during weaning, three weeks later and before the start of the fattening period. Tail biting was influenced by week after weaning (p<0.001) as the behaviour consistently started to appear from the second week after weaning (55.9% of intact tails versus 78.4% of intact tails in week one), increased till the fourth week after weaning (37.7% of intact tails) and then decreased again (66.8% intact tails in week seven). Also, the interaction between batch and treatment group was highly significant. In batches four, eight, and nine there was no difference between treatment groups for tail lesions or for tail losses. In batches one and two, fibre showed a significantly lower level of large injuries as well as of the summarised score for partial and complete loss and consistently a higher level of pigs with intact tails. Weight at the end of post-weaning period and daily weight gain was not affected in either treatment group. Due to the strong interaction with the batch effect, it was not possible to reveal a distinct effect of either treatment group. More research is necessary to investigate the occurrence of the batch effect and its interaction with the treatment group.