Skip to main content
Review article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Prospects for the Analysis and Reduction of Damaging Behaviour in Group-Housed Livestock, With Application to Pig Breeding

Canario, Laurianne; Bijma, Piter; David, Ingrid; Camerlink, Irene; Martin, Alexandre; Rauw, Wendy Mercedes; Flatres-Grall, Loic; Zande, Lisette van der; Turner, Simon P.; Larzul, Catherine; Rydhmer, Lotta


Innovations in the breeding and management of pigs are needed to improve the performance and welfare of animals raised in social groups, and in particular to minimise biting and damage to group mates. Depending on the context, social interactions between pigs can be frequent or infrequent, aggressive, or non-aggressive. Injuries or emotional distress may follow. The behaviours leading to damage to conspecifics include progeny savaging, tail, ear or vulva biting, and excessive aggression. In combination with changes in husbandry practices designed to improve living conditions, refined methods of genetic selection may be a solution reducing these behaviours. Knowledge gaps relating to lack of data and limits in statistical analyses have been identified. The originality of this paper lies in its proposal of several statistical methods for common use in analysing and predicting unwanted behaviours, and for genetic use in the breeding context. We focus on models of interaction reflecting the identity and behaviour of group mates which can be applied directly to damaging traits, social network analysis to define new and more integrative traits, and capture-recapture analysis to replace missing data by estimating the probability of behaviours. We provide the rationale for each method and suggest they should be combined for a more accurate estimation of the variation underlying damaging behaviours.


aggression; genetics; savaging; social interactions; Sus scrofa; model; breeding; tail biting

Published in

Frontiers in Genetics
2020, volume: 11, article number: 611073

Authors' information

Canario, Laurianne
Universite de Toulouse
Bijma, Piter
Wageningen University and Research
David, Ingrid
Universite de Toulouse
Camerlink, Irene
Polish Academy of Sciences
Martin, Alexandre
Universite de Toulouse
Rauw, Wendy Mercedes
Instituto Nacional Investigacion Tecnologia Agraria Alimentaria (INIA)
Flatres-Grall, Loic
Zande, Lisette van der
Wageningen University and Research
Turner, Simon P.
University of Edinburgh
Larzul, Catherine
Universite de Toulouse
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Breeding and Genetics

UKÄ Subject classification

Animal and Dairy Science

Publication Identifiers


URI (permanent link to this page)