Production of slaughter pigs without tail biting and tail docking

Phd defence, Monday 9 April 2018, Mona Lilian Vestbjerg Larsen

2018.04.09 | Helle Karvonen

Mona Lilian Vestbjerg Larsen

During her studies, Mona researched ways to prevent tail biting when raising pigs for slaughter without using tail docking. Mona compared preventive measures against tail biting to possibly be able to replace tail docking. She also looked at behavioural changes observed in pens of slaughter pigs prior to tail damage to possibly be able to predict tail biting before it develops into serious damage on the pigs’ tail.

The results showed that in this study tail docking could be replaced if the pigs were both provided with straw and offered more space per pig. This result may make the farmer more confident to raise pigs without tail docking. Also, pigs’ activity level, exploratory behaviour and tail posture seemed related to tail biting. Thus, all three types of behaviour may be included in an automatic warning tool for the farmer in the future that will be able to tell him/her which pens of slaughter pigs that are in high risk of developing tail damage due to tail biting.

The PhD degree was completed at the Department of Animal Science (ANIS), Science and Technology, Aarhus University.

This résumé was prepared by the PhD student.

Time: Monday 9 April 2018 at 13.00

Place: Building 8814, room 3075, Auditorium, Department of Animal Science, Blichers Allé 20, Aarhus University, Foulum, 8830 Tjele.

Title of PhD thesis: Two strategies to prevent tail damage in finishers: removal of risk factors and early detection

Contact information: Mona Lilian Vestbjerg Larsen, e-mail:, phone: +45 51507927

Members of the assessment committee:

Emerita Professor Sandra Edwards, School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom 

Dr Rick D’Eath, Animal and Veterinary Sciences, Scotland’s Rural College, Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Associate Professor Jan Værum Nørgaard, Department of Animal Science, Aarhus University, Denmark (chair)

Main supervisor:

Senior Researcher Lene Juul Pedersen, Department of Animal Science, Aarhus University, Denmark


Academic Employee Heidi Mai-Lis Andersen, Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University, Denmark

Language: The PhD thesis will be defended in English

The defence is public.

The dissertation is available for reading at the Graduate School of Science and Technology/GSST, Ny Munkegade 120, building 1520, rooms 128-134, 8000 Aarhus C.

PhD defence
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Revised 16.04.2018