The latest report focuses on the problem of tail biting, a distressing form of abnormal behaviour that is known to occur in intensive farming conditions. The Opinion addresses possible ways to reduce the need for tail-docking which farmers can use to tackle the problem. It also identifies factors that can cause the problem, including the absence of straw, the presence of slatted floors and a barren environment.
The work was carried out by EFSA's Panel on Animal Health and Welfare (AHAW) and will help inform the European Commission's review of the European legislation on minimum standards for the protection of pigs. It is to be read alongside two recent AHAW Opinions on pig welfare concerning housing and husbandry practices for adult breeding boars, pregnant, farrowing sows and unweaned piglets and for fattening pigs.
In the past, EFSA has also issued advice on piglet castration and the effects of different space allowances and floor types on the welfare of weaners and rearing pigs.
Animal welfare is an essential part of EFSA's mandate. EFSA's AHAW Panel carries out a wide range of work that helps risk managers review the European regulatory framework under the umbrella of the Community Animal Health Policy (CAHP) and in line with the Animal Health Strategy (2007-2013) and the Community Action Plan on the Protection and Welfare of Animals (2006-2010).
The AHAW Panel is currently carrying out important work to develop and harmonise European risk assessment approaches in the field of animal welfare, which includes devising indicators to help provide quantitative data for scientifically evaluating the conditions of farmed animals.