CANADA - A national study which looked at the effects transport on animal welfare has shown the trailer compartment in which pigs are shipped has a significant effect on their levels of stress during transport and subsequent meat quality, writes Bruce Cochrane.
As part of a national transportation study scientists with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Prairie Swine Centre and the Universities of Guelph, Manitoba and Saskatchewan compared effects of summer and winter transport on the physiology of the pig, on stress response and on meat quality.
Dr Jennifer Brown, a research scientist ethology with the Prairie Swine Centre, told those on hand last week for the 2015 Manitoba Swine Seminar a key finding relates to the compartment in which the pig travels.
Dr Jennifer Brown-Prairie Swine Centre:
One interesting result we found was that, in one of the second studies we looked at different durations of transport, six, twelve or 18 hours and initially we expected to see a strong effect of those longer transports.
There were some effects of those longer transports but it was very specific to the compartment that the pigs were loaded into.
Some trailer compartments, pigs were obviously quite comfortable even for that up to an 18 hour transport where as in some other compartments of that same trailer we saw some very strong impacts on the pigs of that long duration transport especially in the winter months.
What we call the doghouse or the rear upper compartment of the trailer, I think the conditions in that compartment are a little bit cooler, pigs were having to remain standing longer in those transports and that had a longer term effect on their energy levels and their heart rates and also on the meat quality.
Dr Brown says the study did raise some questions and suggests further work is needed to understand why we saw such strong differences in the different trailer compartments.
She says there is considerable interest and the work could ultimately to lead to future trailer design changes.
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