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Pigtail Project

Using stakeholder insights to drive behavioural change in the pig industry

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We are currently recruiting farmers - read more below

Project Summary

The tail docking of piglets is routinely performed on commercial farms in Ireland and other EU countries primarily to help prevent problematic tail biting behaviours. However, this practice has been prohibited in EU law for over 30 years and the push for compliance from the EU Commission will only likely intensify in the future. In order to work out how best to increase Ireland’s compliance with this legislation, it is important to first understand the farmer’s point of view and the role of veterinarians in advising farmers about tail docking and managing pigs with undocked tails.

Qualitative research methods will be used to gather this data. One-to-one in-person interviews will be performed with a representative sample of farm owners and managers from commercial indoor pig farms across Ireland. Focus groups will also be held with private veterinary practitioners and DAFM veterinary inspectors. Finally, the results from the interviews and focus groups will be presented to a range of industry stakeholders at a workshop where the most effective interventions will be discussed. From this research, a roadmap to guide policy development concerning the future reduction of routine tail docking in Ireland will be developed.

Aims of the Project

The overall aim of this research project is to better understand the lack of farmer compliance with the legislation prohibiting the routine tail docking of piglets in Ireland. More specifically, we aim use one-on-one interviews with various pig farm owners and managers to identify the barriers to, and facilitators of, change in terms of the capability, motivation and opportunities feel they have in relation to routine tail docking, biting and rearing pigs with undocked tails.

This project also aims to use focus groups to ascertain private specialist pig veterinary practitioners’ and DAFM veterinary inspectors’ barriers to, and facilitators of, effective advice giving. This will be analysed in terms of the motivations, capabilities and the opportunities they feel they have in relation to advising farmers about tail docking, biting and rearing pigs with undocked tails and their perception of farmers with regards to tail docking. 

Duration: 1 year

Contact: keelin.odriscoll@teagasc.ie or molly.harrison@teagasc.ie 

Funders and Collaborators

This research has been funded by the Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s Competitive Research Funding Programme (2022PSS136).

We greatly appreciate all of the pig farm managers and owners, private veterinary practitioners and DAFM veterinary inspectors who have agreed to participate in the project and our project collaborators Animal Health Ireland and Queen’s University Belfast.

We are currently recruiting farmers

If you are an Irish integrated indoor pig farm owner or manager and would be interested in being interviewed about routine tail docking, please get in touch by completing this short form or emailing one of the above Teagasc researchers.
As a small token of appreciation, you will receive a €50 One4all voucher for participating in the study.

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