Researchers hope to find reason for pig deaths during transport

ILLINOIS - In a video recording of a truck's interior, several pigs being transported from a farm to slaughter stand stiffly with their legs apart. For the entire length of the journey, the pigs maintain this posture - bracing themselves and balancing their weight against the accelerations and decelerations of the truck.
calendar icon 1 May 2006
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They stay standing because if they lie down, the slightest fluctuation in the truck's speed or direction would send them tumbling into the walls or each other. Upon arrival, the animals are fatigued and disoriented from stress.

This revealing video, as well as the monitoring of the pigs' health before and after transport, is part of an ongoing research project led by Michael Ellis, professor of animal sciences in the college of ACES.

Working in partnership with family-owned swine production business, The Maschhoffs Inc. and through the sponsorship of Elanco Animal Health USA and the National Pork Board, Ellis and his team have worked for two years to determine the reasons for pig death during transport and solutions to the growing problem.

"We monitored probably about 60,000 pigs heading towards the packing plant ... taking note of all pigs which arrived dead and incapacitated," Ellis said.

An average of about two in one thousand pigs die during transport, and about five to seven in one thousand arrive at the plant incapacitated, Ellis said.

Research on the transport phase in the pork industry, he said, has lagged behind other countries such as Denmark, Holland and the United Kingdom.

Source: Daily Illini
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