Dr Poppy T E Statham

B.Sc.(Lanc.), M.Sc.(Edin.), PhD(Bristol)

  • BS40 5DU

Personal profile

Research interests


Farm Animal Welfare and Behaviour


Research keywords

  • Assessment of animal welfare
  • Development of abnormal behaviour especially tail-biting in pigs
  • Individual differences between animals
  • Outcome measures of welfare


Research findings

My PhD was in "Effects of experience and individuality on tail-biting in pigs". This longitudinal study followed over 700 undocked pigs from birth to slaughter weight in commercial conditions and examined the development and prediction of tail-biting, the effect of straw provision on their occurrence and why only some pigs bite and others get bitten. We varied the provision of bedding and recorded their position in the teat order (see photo below), weight, behaviour and performance in specifically designed propensity-to-chew tests (see photo below). 

Fourteen outbreaks occurred in total and there was considerable variation in the form of biting, number of biters, speed of development and level of damage (see example in photo below), suggesting that there may different outbreak types which require further detailed classification.

Raised activity levels were noted in the 72 hours prior to an outbreak. Behaviour observations indicated that the presence of damaging tail-biting and tail-tucked under postures were more prevalent in groups which went on to develop outbreaks of tail-biting. These measures have potential for prediction of some outbreaks. Further details are available in our article in Applied Animal Behaviour Science.

In this particular study straw had limited effect on pigs' behaviour or on the occurrence of outbreaks. A number of possible explanations for this are being examined.


 Poppy Statham Pigs


Further information about Dr Poppy Statham can be found here.


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