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Welfare, Carcass and Meat Quality of Pigs in Transport

27 February 2013

The type of vehicle used to transport pigs and the location of the animal in the truck as well as the season of the year affect the welfare of pigs during transport.

According to a report published in Canadian Journal of Animal Science, the vehicle, the location in the vehicle and the season all have clear consequences on skin bruises and pork quality variation.

The study carried out by a team from F. Ménard Inc, the Université Laval, Prairie Swine Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the University of Guelph, the University of Saskatchewan, the Canadian Meat Council and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada looked at the welfare and carcass and meat quality of pigs being transported for two hours using two vehicle types during two seasons of the year.

A total of 3,756 pigs were transported for two hours in summer and winter using a 'pot-belly' trailer (PB) and a hydraulic double-decked truck (DD) in order to assess the effect of vehicle design on animal welfare and carcass and meat quality.

The team of J. A. Correa, H. W. Gonyou, S. Torrey, T. Widowski, R. Bergeron, T. G. Crowe, J. P. Laforest, L. Faucitano assessed animal welfare in randomly selected barrows by measuring heart rate of pigs and lactate and creatine phospho-kinase (CPK) concentrations in exsanguination blood.

Skin damage was scored and meat quality was evaluated in the longissimus dorsi (LD), semimembranosus (SM) and adductor (AD) muscles.

Heart rates in winter were higher (P<0.01) during transport, at unloading and in lairage.

Blood CPK and lactate concentrations at slaughter were higher (P<0.05 and P<0.01, respectively) in pigs transported on the PB trailer.

The pigs had more bruises in winter (P<0.001) and in the DD truck (P<0.05).

The pHu was higher (P<0.01) in all muscles and L* value was lower (P<0.05) in the LD muscle from pigs transported in the PB trailer.

Overall, the results of this study indicate that the type of vehicle, animal location in the truck and the season affect the welfare of pigs during transport with clear consequences on skin bruises and pork quality variation.

Further Reading

You can view the full report (fee payable) by clicking here.

February 2013

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