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Effects of trailer design on animal welfare parameters and carcass and meat quality of three Pietrain crosses being transported over a long distance.

Weschenfelder, A.V., Torrey, S., Devillers, N., Crowe, T.G., Bassols, A., Saco, Y., Piñeiro, M., Saucier, L., and Faucitano, L. (2012). "Effects of trailer design on animal welfare parameters and carcass and meat quality of three Pietrain crosses being transported over a long distance.", Journal of Animal Science, 90(9), pp. 3220-3231. doi : 10.2527/jas.2011-4676  Access to full text


This study aimed at evaluating the effects of trailer design on stress responses and meat quality traits of 3 different pig crosses: 50% Pietrain breeding with HALNn (50Nn); 50% Pietrain breeding with HALNN (50NN); and 25% Pietrain breeding with HALNN genotype (25NN). Over a 6-wk period, pigs (120 pigs/crossbred) were transported for 7 h in either a pot-belly (PB) or flat-deck (FD) trailer (10 pigs/crossbreed-1. trailer-1 . wk-1). Temperature (T) and relative humidity (RH) were monitored in each trailer. Behaviors during loading and unloading, time to load and unload, and latency to rest in lairage were recorded, whereas a sub-population of pigs (4 pigs/crossbreed-1. trailer-1. wk-1) was equipped with gastro-intestinal tract (GIT) temperature monitors. Blood samples were collected at exsanguination for measurement of cortisol, creatine kinase (CK), lactate, haptoglobin and Pig-MAP concentrations. Meat quality data were collected at 24 h postmortem from the LM, and semimembranosus (SM) and adductor (AD) muscles of all 360 pigs. Greater T were recorded in the PB trailer during transportation (P = 0.006) and unloading (P < 0.001). Delta GIT temperature was greater (P = 0.01) in pigs unloaded from the PB. At loading, pigs tended to move backwards more (P = 0.06) when loaded on the FD than the PB trailer. At unloading, an interaction was found between trailer type and crossbred type, with a higher (P < 0.01) frequency of overlaps in 50NN and 25NN pigs and slips/falls in 50Nn and 50NN pigs from the FD than the PB trailer. Cortisol at slaughter were greater (P = 0.02) in pigs transported in the PB than FD trailer. Greater lactate concentrations were found in 50Nn and 50NN pigs (P = 0.003) and higher CK concentrations (P < 0.001) in 50Nn pigs. As expected, 50Nn pigs produced leaner (P < 0.001) carcasses, with greater (P = 0.01) dressing percentages, as well as lower (P < 0.001) ultimate pH values and greater (P < 0.001) drip loss percentages in the LM, and greater (P = 0.002) drip losses and a paler color (greater L* values, P = 0.02) in the SM than 50NN pigs. When used for long distance transportation under controlled conditions, the PB trailer produced no detrimental effects on animal welfare or pork quality. Pigs with 50% Pietrain crossbreeding appear to be more responsive to transport stress, having the potential to produce acceptable carcass and pork quality, provided pigs are free of the HAL gene.

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