• Open Access

Scientific Opinion concerning a Multifactorial approach on the use of animal and non-animal-based measures to assess the welfare of pigs


  • EFSA Panel on Animal Health and Welfare (AHAW)

  • Panel members: Edith Authie, Charlotte Berg, Anette Bøtner, Howard Browman, Ilaria Capua, Aline De Koeijer, Klaus Depner, Mariano Domingo, Sandra Edwards, Christine Fourichon, Frank Koenen, Simon More, Mohan Raj, Liisa Sihvonen, Hans Spoolder, Jan Arend Stegeman, Hans-Hermann Thulke, Ivar Vågsholm, Antonio Velarde, Preben Willeberg and Stéphan Zientara.
  • Correspondence: alpha@efsa.europa.eu
  • Acknowledgement: The Panel wishes to thank the members of the Working Group on Multifactorial approach to assess the welfare of pigs: Sandra Edwards (chair), Hans Spoolder, Antonio Velarde, Anna Valros and Ziv Shkedy for the preparatory work on this scientific opinion and the hearing expert: Marc Brake and EFSA staff: Silvia Inés Nicolau Solano, Jose Cortiñas Abrahantes and Jane Richardson for the support provided to this scientific opinion. The Panel acknowledges: Valerie Courboulay (Institut du Porc, France), Stefan Gunnarsson (Sveriges Lantbruksuniversitet, Sweeden), Camilla Munsterhjelm (University of Helsinki, Finland), Déborah Temple and Eva Mainau (IRTA and University of Barcelona, Spain), Alison Bond (University of Bristol, the United Kingdom) and Herman Vermeer (Wageningen UR Livestock Research, the Netherlands) for providing Welfare Quality® data and Sanna Nikunen (Association for Animal Disease Prevention ETT ra, Sikava, Finland) for providing the data from the Sikava National Health and Welfare Program.
  • Adoption date: 14 May 2014
  • Published date: 23 May 2014
  • Question number: EFSA-Q-2013-00667
  • On request from: European Commission


Pigs have a need for manipulable materials to satisfy a range of behavioural needs, which can be different in different classes of pig. When these needs are not met, a range of adverse welfare consequences result, one of these being an increased risk for tail-biting in weaners and rearing pigs. The ability to control the risk of tail-biting is essential when aiming to avoid tail-docking. Based on available scientific information this Opinion identifies the multiple interactions between risk factors, welfare consequences and animal and non-animal-based measures on the two subjects requested (i) the absence of functional manipulable materials, for pigs at different stages in life and (ii) tail-biting, for weaners and rearing pigs only. An attempt is made to quantify the relationships between the identified interactions by carrying out a statistical analysis of information from available databases, those being an international dataset collected using the Welfare Quality® protocol, which was not designed to evaluate risk factors for tail-biting and therefore, it had limitations in fitness for this analysis, and a large Finnish dataset with undocked pigs. Based on the current state of knowledge, the AHAW Panel proposes two simple tool-boxes for on farm use to assess (i) the functionality of the supplied manipulable material and (ii) the presence and strength of risk factors for tail biting. Both proposed tool-boxes include a combination of the most important resource-based and animal-based measures. Further development and validation of decision-support tools for customised farm assessment is strongly recommended and a proposal for harmonised data collection across the range of European farming circumstances is presented. A series of further recommendations are made by the AHAW Panel.