The Importance of the Social Sciences in Reducing Tail Biting Prevalence in Pigs

Grace Carroll, Jenny M. Groarke

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issuepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
133 Downloads (Pure)


Tail biting in pigs has been recognised as a welfare problem for several decades, being referred to in scientific literature as far back as the 1940s. Today, animal welfare scientists have a solid understanding of the aetiology of tail biting. Despite this, there has been a major failure in applying research findings on commercial farms. Consequently, tail biting remains a significant problem in modern intensive pig farming. Of all farming industry stakeholders, farmers have the greatest influence over the welfare of their animals. Despite this, little animal welfare research has focused on changing farmer behaviour. Understanding the reasons why farmers act or fail to act to improve animal welfare is key if research findings are to be translated into practical on‐farm change. Adopting the principles of behavioural science, this review discussed theory‐based methods of
identifying barriers to effective tail biting management. A guide was provided for designing behaviour change interventions for farmers using The Behaviour Change Wheel, a systematic framework that links the source of behaviour to suitable interventions. It was concluded that the social sciences are of great importance to ensuring that theory is put into practice.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 21 Aug 2019


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