The gut microbiota and microbial metabolites are associated with tail biting in pigs
Journal article, 2021

Tail biting is an abnormal behaviour that causes stress, injury and pain. Given the critical role of the gut-microbiota in the development of behavioural problems in humans and animals, the aim of this study was to determine whether pigs that are biters, victims of tail biting or controls (nine matched sets of pigs) have a different microbiota composition, diversity and microbial metabolite profile. We collected faecal and blood samples from each individual for analysis. The gut microbiota composition was most different between the biter and the control pigs, with a higher relative abundance of Firmicutes in tail biter pigs than the controls. Furthermore, we detected differences in faecal and plasma short chain fatty acids (SCFA) profiles between the biter and victim pigs, suggesting physiological differences even though they are kept in the same pen. Thus, in addition to supporting an association between the gut microbiota and tail biting in pigs, this study also provides the first evidence of an association between tail biting and SCFA. Therefore, further research is needed to confirm these associations, to determine causality and to study how the SCFA profiles of an individual play a role in the development of tail biting behaviour.


Else Verbeek

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU)

Linda Keeling

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU)

Rikard Landberg

Chalmers, Biology and Biological Engineering, Food and Nutrition Science

Jan Erik Lindberg

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU)

Johan Dicksved

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU)

Scientific Reports

2045-2322 (ISSN) 20452322 (eISSN)

Vol. 11 1 20547

Subject Categories


Environmental Health and Occupational Health



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