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Water Sprinkling Effective in Reducing Mortality

20 March 2013
Manitoba Pork Council

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CANADA - Research conducted in Ontario has shown pork producers can reduce their risk of death loss during the hot summer months by using water sprinkling during transport, writes Bruce Cochrane.

Researchers with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the University of Guelph and the Prairie Swine Centre on behalf of Swine Innovation Porc looked at the use of water sprinkling in the trucks that haul hogs to market in reducing the heat stress that can occur in the summer.

Trucks were fitted with sprinkling systems that could be hooked to an external hose, pigs were sprinkled just before leaving the farm, driven for two hours to the packing plant and were sprinkled again just before unloading.

Dr Jennifer Brown, a research scientist ethology, with the Prairie Swine Centre, says with the high levels of humidity and heat in the summer we see a big increase in over heating of pigs and potential death loss, especially in the east were they have of shorter travel times and sometimes slower traffic speeds.

Dr Jennifer Brown-Prairie Swine Centre

We looked at so many things in these pigs.

'We looked at their behavior on the truck and in the lairage pens, we took blood samples at sticking and measured creatine phosphokinase and lactate, a couple of measures of their stress response and acid base and then also looked at their meat quality.

What we did find was that tendency for a drop in pH so the tendency toward pale, soft, exudative type of pork that you will often see increased in the summer was reduced in these pigs that had been sprinkled.

We also saw an increased effect of the sprinkling when temperatures were above about 20 degrees centigrade so, as the temperature increased, we saw a greater effect of the sprinkling and a reduced stress response that leads to PSE pork.

Dr Brown says, with really hot summer temperatures that we're likely to see in coming years, it's becoming more and more important for transporters to pay attention to the high temperatures that can cause death loss.

ThePigSite News Desk

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