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Animals 2014, 4(2), 200-213; doi:10.3390/ani4020200

Welfare of Pigs Being Transported over Long Distances Using a Pot-Belly Trailer during Winter and Summer

1 Inc., Ange Gardien, QC, J0E 1E0, Canada 2 Université Laval, Quebec City, QC, G1K 7P4, Canada 3 Prairie Swine Centre, Saskatoon, SK, S7H 5N9, Canada 4 Dairy and Swine and Development Research Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Sherbrooke, QC, J1M 0C8, Canada 5 Department of Animal & Poultry Science, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, N1G 2W1, Canada 6 University of Guelph, Alfred Campus, Alfred, ON, K0B 1A0, Canada 7 Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, S7N 5A9, Canada Present address: Canadian Meat Council, Ottawa, ON, K1Z8P9, Canada Present address: Department of Animal and Poultry Science, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, N1G 2W1, Canada
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 6 February 2014 / Revised: 15 April 2014 / Accepted: 18 April 2014 / Published: 25 April 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pig Transport)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [129 KB, 28 April 2014; original version 25 April 2014]   |   Browse Figures
Simple Summary: The pot-belly trailer, which can transport large loads in a single journey, is commonly used for swine transportation in Canada. However, it is generally acknowledged that pot-belly trailers and some specific compartments within this vehicle are worse than others in terms of animal losses. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of pot-belly design on animal welfare and meat quality in pigs being transported long distance in two different seasons of the year.


A total of 2,145 pigs were transported for 8 h in summer (six trips) and winter (five trips) using a pot-belly trailer accommodating pigs in four locations (upper deck or UD, bottom-nose or BN, middle deck or MD and bottom deck or BD). Heart rate of pigs during loading and transportation and lactate and creatine kinase (CK) concentrations in exsanguination blood were measured. Meat quality was evaluated in the Longissimus thoracis (LT), Semimembranosus (SM) and Adductor (AD) muscles. During summer, pigs loaded in the UD and MD had higher (P < 0.05) heart rate at loading compared to those located in the BD and BN. Blood lactate and CK concentrations were higher (P < 0.001) in winter than in summer. Lactate concentration was higher (P = 0.01) in the blood of pigs transported in the BN. Pigs transported in the BN had higher pHu values in the LT, SM and AD muscles (P = 0.02, P < 0.001 and P = 0.002, respectively) and lower (P = 0.002) drip loss values in the SM muscle. This study confirms that some locations within the PB trailer have a negative impact on the welfare of pigs at loading and during transport with more pronounced effects in the winter due to the additive effect of cold stress.
Keywords: blood metabolites; heart rate; pigs; pork quality; season; transport blood metabolites; heart rate; pigs; pork quality; season; transport
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Correa, J.A.; Gonyou, H.; Torrey, S.; Widowski, T.; Bergeron, R.; Crowe, T.; Laforest, J.-P.; Faucitano, L. Welfare of Pigs Being Transported over Long Distances Using a Pot-Belly Trailer during Winter and Summer. Animals 2014, 4, 200-213.

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