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Road transport of cattle, swine and poultry in North America and its impact on animal welfare, carcass and meat quality: A review.

Schwartzkopf-Genswein, K.S.G., Faucitano, L., Dadgar, S., Shand, P.J., González, L.A., and Crowe, T.G. (2012). "Road transport of cattle, swine and poultry in North America and its impact on animal welfare, carcass and meat quality: A review.", Meat Science, 92(3), pp. 227-243. doi : 10.1016/j.meatsci.2012.04.010  Access to full text

Abstract

This paper reviews the effects of road transport on the welfare, carcass and meat quality of cattle, swine and poultry in North America (NA). The main effects of loading density, trailer microclimate, transport duration, animal size and condition, management factors including bedding, ventilation, handling, facilities, and vehicle design are summarized by species. The main effects listed above all have impacts on welfare (stress, health, injury, fatigue, dehydration, core body temperature, mortality and morbidity) and carcass and meat quality (shrink, bruising, pH, color defects and water losses) to varying degrees. It is clear that the effect of road transport is a multi-factorial problem where a combination of stressors rather than a single factor is responsible for the animal's well-being and meat quality post transport. Animals least fit for transport suffer the greatest losses in terms of welfare and meat quality while market ready animals (in particular cattle and pigs) in good condition appear to have fewer issues. More research is needed to identify the factors or combination of factors with the greatest negative impacts on welfare and meat quality relative to the species, and their size, age and condition under extreme environmental conditions. Future research needs to focus on controlled scientific assessments, under NA conditions, of varying loading densities, trailer design, microclimate, and handling quality during the transport process. Achieving optimal animal well-being, carcass and meat quality will entirely depend on the quality of the animal transport process.

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