Sophia A. Ward, John R. Pluske, Kate J. Plush, Jo M. Pluske, Charles V. Rikard-Bell

Assessing Decision Support Tools for Mitigating Tail Biting in Pork Production: Current Progress and Future Directions

  • General Veterinary
  • Animal Science and Zoology

Tail biting (TB) in pigs is a complex issue that can be caused by multiple factors, making it difficult to determine the exact etiology on a case-by-case basis. As such, it is often difficult to pinpoint the reason, or set of reasons, for TB events, Decision Support Tools (DSTs) can be used to identify possible risk factors of TB on farms and provide suitable courses of action. The aim of this review was to identify DSTs that could be used to predict the risk of TB behavior. Additionally, technologies that can be used to support DSTs, with monitoring and tracking the prevalence of TB behaviors, are reviewed. Using the PRISMA methodology to identify sources, the applied selection process found nine DSTs related to TB in pigs. All support tools relied on secondary information, either by way of the scientific literature or expert opinions, to determine risk factors for TB predictions. Only one DST was validated by external sources, seven were self-assessed by original developers, and one presented no evidence of validation. This analysis better understands the limitations of DSTs and highlights an opportunity for the development of DSTs that rely on objective data derived from the environment, animals, and humans simultaneously to predict TB risks. Moreover, an opportunity exists for the incorporation of monitoring technologies for TB detection into a DST.

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