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Swine Producers Encouraged to Minimize the Use of Electric Prods

by 5m Editor
16 November 2004, at 12:00am

CANADA - Farm-Scape: Episode 1646. Farm-Scape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork.

Farm-Scape, Episode 1646

Researchers at the Prairie Swine Centre are encouraging swine producers to consider upgrades to handling facilities that will allow them to minimize the use of electric prods.

'Handling the Grow-Finish Process' is among the topics being examined as part of the Saskatchewan Pork Industry Symposium 2004 which kicked off today in Saskatoon.

Pigs will often be handled several times in the last weeks before shipment as they're weighed and sorted to ensure they hit the core weights that bring premium market prices.

Prairie Swine Centre Research Scientist in Ethology Dr. Harold Gonyou says the stresses of handling these animals can reach the point where some will become severely fatigued...in some cases to the point they end up being lost.

"A few of our pigs going to market will end up falling down on the truck or during the handling at the plant.

Some of these pigs may actually die but many others simply refuse to get up and it ends up being a significant cost to the industry.

The industry averages would appear to be about one half of one percent of pigs. That would work out to about one pig per truckload arriving at our large plants will stumble and fall when they're being unloaded and refuse to get back up again.

These pigs often have to be euthanized and don't make it into the food chain. We'll find instances as high as four or five percent on some truckloads.

We found, in our research, that almost all of the instances of these fatigued pigs were related to the use of electric prods.

We're looking at how we can analyze our handling situation and identify where the problem areas are so that we can correct those problems and not have to use prods on some of the pigs as they are being loaded."

Dr. Gonyou says high losses due to fatigue in a particular shipment could result from a number of factors but they do add up.

He says it's important to identify those animals having difficulty and treat them particularly carefully.

For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.

5m Editor