Scientific Opinion concerning a Multifactorial approach on the use of animal and non-animal-based measures to assess the welfare of pigs

pig, welfare, tail-biting, tail-docking, enrichment, manipulable material
First published in the EFSA Journal
23 maggio 2014
14 maggio 2014
Scientific Opinion


Pigs have a need for manipulable materials to satisfy a range of behavioural needs, which can be different in different classes of pig. When these needs are not met, a range of adverse welfare consequences result, one of these being an increased risk for tail-biting in weaners and rearing pigs. The ability to control the risk of tail-biting is essential when aiming to avoid tail-docking. Based on available scientific information this Opinion identifies the multiple interactions between risk factors, welfare consequences and animal and non-animal-based measures on the two subjects requested (i) the absence of functional manipulable materials, for pigs at different stages in life and (ii) tail-biting, for weaners and rearing pigs only. An attempt is made to quantify the relationships between the identified interactions by carrying out a statistical analysis of information from available databases, those being an international dataset collected using the Welfare Quality® protocol, which   was not designed to evaluate risk factors for tail-biting and therefore, it had limitations in fitness for this analysis, and a large Finnish dataset with undocked pigs. Based on the current state of knowledge, the AHAW Panel proposes two simple tool-boxes for on farm use to assess (i) the functionality of the supplied manipulable material and (ii) the presence and strength of risk factors for tail biting. Both proposed tool-boxes include a combination of the most important resource-based and animal-based measures. Further development and validation of decision–support tools for customised farm assessment is strongly recommended and a proposal for harmonised data collection across the range of European farming circumstances is presented. A series of further recommendations are made by the AHAW Panel.

Panel members at the time of adoption

Edith Authie, Charlotte Berg, Anette Bøtner, Howard Browman, Ilaria Capua, Aline De Koeijer, Klaus Depner, Mariano Domingo, Sandra Edwards, Christine Fourichon, Frank Koenen, Simon More, Mohan Raj, Liisa Sihvonen, Hans Spoolder, Jan Arend Stegeman, Hans-Hermann Thulke, Ivar Vågsholm, Antonio Velarde, Preben Willeberg and Stéphan Zientara.
Panel on Animal Health and Welfare
alpha [at]
EFSA Journal 2014;12(5):3702
Question Number
On request from
European Commission