Tail lesions

Why is it measured?

Tail lesions are the result of tail biting behaviour. Tail biting is an abnormal behaviour which can be caused by insufficient opportunity to forage/root or manipulate appropriate materials. The tail biting may be borne out of frustration and competition for resources and thus is a welfare concern for the biter as well as the receiver. Tail lesions are the clinical result of tail biting. They are painful and can become secondarily infected leading to internal abscesses, septicaemia and even death. The presence of any tail lesions increases the risk of a tail biting outbreak within a herd and therefore must always considered a serious welfare concern.

How to assess and score using the AssureWel measure

 Tail lesions (finishing pigs)                                                                                                          Individual measure
 Observation: Look at the animal from behind. Investigate carefully if the tail is swollen or shorter than normal and for scabs and lesions.

0 None - Minimal    =

1 Mild                       =

2 Severe                    =

The tail is unmarked or has circular lesions <0.5cm diameter or linear lesions <1cm in length; 
The tail has a circular lesion ≥0.5cm diameter or a 1cm linear scratch (including small scratches and scrapes, swelling, fresh blood or scabs visible on any part of the tail);
The tail is more severely bitten – at least a proportion of the tail missing, tail swollen or held oddly, scab covering whole tip.
 Record if too dirty to assess.
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