Factors Affecting Stress During Transport

by 5m Editor
18 April 2012, at 9:33am

CANADA - Information gathered through a multi institutional multidisciplinary study is helping the pork industry address factors affecting the stresses on pigs that occur during transport and their impact on meat quality, writes Bruce Cochrane.

As part of a five year multidisciplinary study scientists with the Prairie Swine Centre, the Universities of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Guelph and Laval University looked at factors in transport that affect the welfare of pigs and subsequent meat quality including distances traveled, the extreme seasonal differences in Canada and the effect of different truck types and compartments.

Dr Yolande Seddon, a research scientist ethology with the Prairie Swine Centre, says the goal is to identify strategies to reduce stress during transport.

Dr Yolande Seddon-Prairie Swine Centre

There's an incredible amount that's come from this and it's particularly applicable because it was all done under commercial conditions.

In large we know that there are big differences as a result of the extreme weather conditions you experience in Canada.

We have extremes in temperature occurring in both summer and winter in the trucks and this is affecting the pigs in terms of heat stress in summer, cold stress in winter.

We're finding that long transport times are a lot more fatiguing to pigs but one thing that's also interesting is how we are loading these pigs, not only in how many ramps they're having to go in the internal compartments but also within the compartments that they're having to travel really will affect them.

This is because different compartments have different temperature extremes, different vibrational qualities and we found a lot of correlations between where the pigs were loaded, which compartment, the transport time and the temperature on the effect of the behavior of the pigs which was also telling us how the pigs were feeling in terms of the temperature and thermal regulation but also then subsequently how it affected the meat quality.

Dr Seddon says the study has shown there are simple things that can be done immediately to reduce stress during loading and unloading but more research is needed to learn how we can mitigate stressful events during transport.

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