PigWatch responds to the pig welfare call, and 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 proposal centres around the involvement of pig farmers via Focus Groups. These groups will contribute to the identification of practical constraints and potential solutions at the start of the project. They will monitor progress and provide advice during the development phase. Finally, they will test the tools over a prolonged period of time by using the outcomes to identify and remedy problems with injurious behaviours.
PigWatch will thus deliver

  1. farmer focus groups, linked with each other through an international
  2. on-farm automated methods as well as an observation protocol for farmers to identify
    imminent behaviour problems, and
  3. an in-line detection system of lesions at the abattoir.