Effects of transport duration on behavior, heart rate and gastrointestinal tract temperature of market weight pigs in 2 seasons.

Goumon, S., Brown, J.A., Faucitano, L., Bergeron, R., Widowski, T.M., Crowe, T.G., and Gonyou, H.W. (2013). "Effects of transport duration on behavior, heart rate and gastrointestinal tract temperature of market weight pigs in 2 seasons.", Journal of Animal Science, 91(10), pp. 4925-4935. doi : 10.2527/jas.2012-6081  Access to full text

Abstract

Welfare and meat quality of market-weight pigs may be negatively affected by transport duration and environmental temperatures, which vary considerably between seasons. This study evaluated the effects of 3 transport durations (6, 12, and 18 h) on the physiology and behavior of pigs in summer and winter in western Canada. Market-weight pigs were transported using a pot-belly trailer at an average loading density of 0.375 m2/100 kg. Four replicates of each transport duration were conducted during each season. Heart rate and gastrointestinal tract temperature (GTT) were monitored from loading to unloading in 16 pigs from 4 selected trailer compartments (n = 96 groups, total of 384 animals, BW = 120.8 ± 0.4 kg), namely top front (C1), top back (C4), middle front (C5), and bottom rear (C10). Behavior was recorded for pigs (948 and 924 animals, in summer and winter, respectively) in C1, C4, and C5 during transportation (standing, sitting, lying), and during 90 min in lairage (sitting, lying, drinking, latency to rest) for pigs in all 4 compartments. Transport was split into 7 periods: loading, pre-travel (PT), initial travel (IT), pre-arrival 1 (PA1) and 2 (PA2), unloading, and lairage. During IT and PA2, pigs spent less time lying in winter than summer (P < 0.05 and P < 0.05, respectively). During PA1, PA2, and unloading, a greater (P < 0.001) heart rate was found in pigs transported in winter compared with summer. During PA2, pigs subjected to the 18-h transport treatment in winter had a greater (P < 0.05) GTT than the other groups. In lairage, pigs transported for 18 h in winter drank more (P < 0.001) and took longer to rest (P < 0.01) than pigs from other groups. During PA1, pigs transported for 18 h had the greatest GTT (P < 0.001). At unloading, pigs transported for 6 h had the lowest GTT (P < 0.001). In lairage, pigs transported for 18 h spent less time lying than those transported for 6 or 12 h (P < 0.001). These results suggest that in winter, pigs increased their metabolism and were reluctant to rest on cold floors. Pigs transported for 18 h in winter showed greater evidence of thirst. It may be concluded that under western Canadian climatic conditions, long transports (18 h) in cold weather appear to be more detrimental to pig welfare.

Date modified: