Influence of magnesium on the behavioural disorder tail biting in pigs

Tail biting is a hazardous behavioural disorder occurring worldwide in pig industry. It is a sign of suffering of the animals and also leads to pain, damage and suffering as well as economic losses. Despite intensive research, the pathogenesis is still not understood, which makes secure prevention and intervention up to date impossible. This project is funded by Svineafgiftsfonden and will enhance our understanding of tail biting in pigs and how to facilitate management of pigs with regard to prevention of the occurrence of tail biting.

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📷 100940074 | Pig © Deyana Robova |


Tail biting in pigs is a multifactorial problem. In a recent study about the influence of the health status on tail biting (Czycholl et al. 2023), it was detected that all animals had a Hypomagnesemia, i.e. the Magnesium content in the blood was below reference level. This comes as a surprise as actually, enough Magnesium is provided in the feed. In the present study, by a controlled feeding trial, we will test whether a feeding supplementation with Magnesium can:

  1. Raise the Magnesium level in the blood
  2. Reduce the occurrence of harmful behaviours (aggressive behaviour, ear biting, tail biting)

Different concentrations of the feed supplementation will be tested in order to be able to give concrete scientific-based advise.

This study contributes to the understanding of the pathogenesis of the behavioural disorder tail biting in pigs. The results are of interest to researchers trying to understand the phenomenon but especially also the farmers who are in need of effective prevention and intervention strategies, especially given the political ban of tail docking in Europe. 

This project is funded by Svineafgiftsfonden 

Project name: 'Influence of magnesium on the behavioural disorder tail biting in pigs'

Period:  January 2024 - December 2024


Project leader: Associate Professor Irena Czycholl