Standardising the assessment of environmental enrichment and tail docking legal requirements for finishing pigs in Europe

Becky Hothersall, Lindsay Whistance, Hanna Zedlacher, Bo Algers, Emma Andersson, Marc Bracke, Valerie Courboulay, Paolo Ferrari, Christine Leeb, Siobhan Mullan, Jacek Nowicki, Marie-Christine Meunier-Salaun, Thomas Schwarz, Lisanne Stadig, David Main

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
285 Downloads (Pure)


An online training package providing a concise synthesis of the scientific data underpinning EU legislation on enrichment and tail docking of pigs was produced in seven languages, with the aim of improving consistency of professional judgements regarding legislation compliance on farms. In total 158 participants who were official inspectors, certification scheme assessors and advisors from 16 EU countries completed an initial test and an online training package. Control group participants completed a second identical test before, and Training group participants after, viewing the training. In Section 1 of the test participants rated the importance of modifying environmental enrichment defined in nine scenarios from 1 (not important) to 10 (very important). Training significantly increased participants’ overall perception of the need for change. Participants then rated nine risk factors for tail biting from 1 (no risk) to 10 (high risk). After training scores were better correlated with risk rankings already described by scientists. Scenarios relating to tail docking and management were then described. Training significantly increased the proportion of respondents correctly identifying that a farm without tail lesions should stop tail docking. Finally, participants rated the importance of modifying enrichment in three further scenarios. Training increased ratings in all three.
The pattern of results indicated that participants’ roles influenced scores but overall the training improved 1) recognition of enrichments that, by virtue of their type or use by pigs, may be insufficient to achieve legislation compliance, 2) knowledge on risk factors for tail biting and 3) recognition of when routine tail docking was occurring.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)499-515
Number of pages17
JournalAnimal Welfare
Issue number4
Early online date1 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016


  • animal welfare
  • enrichment
  • inspector
  • legislation
  • pig
  • tail docking


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