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Relationships between tail biting in pigs and disease lesions and condemnations at slaughter
  1. S. K. Kritas, DVM, PhD1 and
  2. R. B. Morrison, DVM, MBA, PhD2
  1. 1 Clinic of Medicine, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Thessaly, 43100 Karditsa, Greece
  2. 2 Department of Veterinary Population Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota, St Paul, MN 55108, USA
  1. Dr Kritas's present address is Department of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, School of Veterinary Medicine, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, 54124 Thessaloniki, Macedonia, Greece


Two matched case-control studies were performed at an abattoir with a capacity of 780 pigs per hour, each study using the approximately 7000 pigs slaughtered on one day. In the first study, the severity of tail biting and pneumonia were recorded in pigs with bitten or intact tails. In the second study, the tail score, sex, and the presence of pleuritis, externally visible abscesses and trimming were recorded in pigs with bitten or intact tails. In study 1, there was no significant association between the tail score and the percentage of lung tissue affected by lesions typical of enzootic pneumonia, but there was a significant association between the severity of tail biting and the prevalence of lungs with abscesses and/or pleuritic lesions (P<0·0001). In study 2, there were significant associations between the severity of tail biting, and the prevalence of external carcase abscesses and carcase trimming; the carcases of castrated males had evidence of tail biting more frequently than the carcases of females (P<0·05).

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