Reduction of Transport–Induced Stress on Finishing Pigs by Increasing Lairage Time

A longer lairage time allowed the pigs transported a short distance to recover from transport stress, according to new research from Spain.
calendar icon 16 May 2012
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Pre–slaughter handling such as transport and lairage has been identified as one of the most stressful periods in the pig’s life, according to Marta García-Celdrán of the University Polytechnic in Cartagena, Spain and co–authors there and at the University of Murcia.

In a paper published recently in Journal of Swine Health and Production, they explain that the main aim of their project was to determine if an increase in lairage time reduces stress markers when the animal transportation period is short. The effect of gender (gilts versus barrows) was also assessed.

A total of 200 pigs (129 gilts and 71 barrows) were subjected to two different lairage times at the slaughterhouse: short lairage (three hours) and long lairage (12 hours), after a short journey (15km, 20 minutes) by road from farm to abattoir.

Blood samples were collected at the beginning of the slaughter line to determine stress markers: acute phase proteins (haptoglobin, serum amyloid A, and C–reactive protein) and neutrophil to lymphocyte (N:L) ratio. In the chilling tunnel, pH was measured in the semimembranosus muscle 45 minutes post mortem.

A longer lairage time allowed the pigs to recover from transport stress, as indicated by a decrease in acute phase protein levels (haptoglobin, C-reactive protein), and N:L ratio. Sensitivity to stress did not differ between gilts and barrows.

Under the conditions of this study, concluded García-Celdrán, several stress indicators increase less when market gilts and barrows transported a short distance are allowed a longer lairage time (12 versus three hours). They added that these stress indicators may be useful measures in research about transport welfare.


García-Celdrán M., G. Ramis, J.J. Quereda and E. Armero. 2012. Reduction of transport-induced stress on finishing pigs by increasing lairage time at the slaughter house. J Swine Health Prod. 20(3):118–122.

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May 2012
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