Date Full Report Received03/31/2006
Date Abstract Report Received07/25/2007
InvestigationInstitution: ARS, Livestock Behavior Research Unit, MWA, USDA
Primary Investigator: Donald Lay Jr
Co-Investigators: Jeremy Marchant-Forde
Funded ByNational Pork Board
The major finding of this research project is that any processing technique that can be carried out quickly and with minimal tissue damage is likely to be least stressful for the piglet. Alternative techniques such as teeth grinding, hot-iron tail-docking and oral dosing of iron, which might be expected to have some well-being advantages over teeth clipping, cold tail-docking and iron injecting respectively, were found to be disadvantageous primarily because of the amount of extra time needed to carry the procedure out. However, our alternative method of tagging for identification purposes, rather than ear-notching, did appear to improve piglet well-being, by being both a quicker technique and by greatly reducing tissue damage. Although subsequent loss of ear tags is a potential problem on-farm, tagging should be considered as a more welfare-friendly alternative. When carried out in a single processing event, our recommendation would be for all tasks to be carried out efficiently by a trained and experienced stockperson in order to minimize the time taken, ensure the accuracy of procedure and reduce the stress associated with the procedure itself and with the handling needed to carry out the procedure.