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SmartTail - early detection of tail biting using digital technologies


Niedersächsisches Ministerium für Ernährung, Landwirtschaft und Verbraucherschutz

Federal State

Lower Saxony and Bremen


Calenberger Straße 2
30169 Hannover

Website: External link to the authority

Project Title

SmartTail - early detection of tail biting using digital technologies

Project description

In pig farming, the so-called tail biting occurs regularly. The causes of this behavioural disorder are manifold and cannot be attributed to one housing system alone. It has a negative effect on the well-being and health of the animals, is accompanied by economic losses and can lead to a significantly increased use of antibiotics. In many EU member states, tail docking is the method of choice for piglets. This is intended to reduce tail biting to a minimum. The process of tail docking is controversial and increasingly finds less and less social acceptance. With the national action plan for docking renunciation, the first steps towards renunciation have been successful. The main aim of this project is to detect tail-biting in pigs at an early stage using an AI approach based on suitable sensor technology. Furthermore, indicators of the causes of tail-biting in the specific context of interaction (temperature, fattening week etc.) are to be determined. The result will be an alarm app and the foundation for further knowledge-based, animal welfare-promoting measures will be developed.

Results focusing on practiceorientation

As part of the EIP Agri-funded project SmartTail - Early detection of tail biting using digital technologies, a system was developed that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to track individual pigs using ear tags with data matrix codes. After further training, the system can detect tail biting early and automatically. More training data of the biting event is needed, though. Affordable and common PoE camera systems are used. The video data generated is evaluated with the help of a deep-learning server and supplemented with data from the existing barn technology. A developed alarm system is used to pass on any need for action to the farmer. The development provides the basis for a practical tool to support the management of uncooped pigs.

Key words

  • Animal husbandry
  • animal welfare
  • Digitalisation, incl. data and data technologies

Main funding source

Rural development 2014-2020 for Operational Groups (in the sense of Art 56 of Reg.1305/2013)

OG contact information

Hof Fleming - Dr. Kathrin Müller & Dr. Henning Müller
Ehrener Kirchweg 6
49624 Löningen

Phone: 05432/2247

Email: henning.mueller@hof-fleming.de

Type of OG partners

  • Farmer
  • Researcher
  • Industry

Begin of project


Project status


Total budget applied for in EUR


Link 1

project website of EIP Lower Saxony



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