Docking piglet tails: How much does it hurt and for how long?

Despite the current position of European authorities and of the general public against the practice of tail docking, the question of its effects on the characteristics of pain experienced by piglets is still relatively unexplored. This recently published work by Pierpaolo Di Giminiani and colleagues at Newcastle University and SRUC focussed on three response stages (immediate, short- and long-term) through the recording of vocalisation at the time of docking, behaviours up to 2 days post-docking and nociceptive measures several weeks following the procedure. Their results suggest that an immediate difference between docked and non-docked piglets is detectable through parameters of vocal features. Nonetheless, behavioural and nociceptive recordings failed to identify post-docking anomalies. While alternative methodologies need to be implemented to clarify whether tail docking causes long-term pain, their findings appear to confirm the presence of immediate effects but disagree with some of the existing scientific literature on prolonged changes attributable to pain.


Pierpaolo Di Giminiani, Abozar Nasirahmadi, Emma M. Malcolm, Matthew C. Leach, Sandra A. Edwards (2017). Docking piglet tails: How much does it hurt and for how long? Physiology & Behavior 182, 69-76.


Full article can be found here.