PigWatch aims to develop practical animal based measures to avoid the pain, frustration and negative emotional states associated with the development of tail biting and aggression in finishing pigs. It will focus on measures for prediction on farm, and for monitoring at the abattoir. Firstly, for individual farmers to be able to act quickly and effectively to avoid problems, it is essential that they can anticipate imminent injurious behaviours. This will allow corrective actions to be taken before the problem gets out of hand.
Secondly, common definitions of injurious behaviours and common scoring methods are needed to benchmark the incidence of the behavioural problems across farms, and also to help quantify the effectiveness of any remedial actions applied over time.
Therefore PigWatch will:
- Provide different detection methods conducting to early warning signals for farmers, to help them remedy or prevent outbreaks of tail biting or fighting on-farm.
- Generate routinely collected data at the abattoir on the status of tail biting and aggression on-farm, to allow benchmarking and support measures for farms with relatively high incidences of problems
The project started in the Spring of 2016. We are currently developing and testing an 'Eye of the farmer protocol', and the first results will be made public in the Summer of 2017.