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Animals 2014, 4(4), 742-754; doi:10.3390/ani4040742

Loading and Unloading Weaned Pigs: Effects of Bedding Types, Ramp Angle, and Bedding Moisture

Department of Animal and Food Sciences, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409, USA
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Received: 5 June 2014 / Revised: 16 September 2014 / Accepted: 20 November 2014 / Published: 3 December 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pig Transport)
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Simple Summary

Current guidelines suggest the use of ramps below 20° to load and unload pigs; they do not suggest the use of any specific bedding. Bedding types (nothing, feed, sand, wood shavings, and hay) were tested with four week old weaned pigs to determine which was most effective in reducing slips, falls, and vocalizations at three ramp angles, two moistures, over two seasons. Slips, falls, and vocalizations were summed to establish a scoring system to evaluate treatments. Scores increased in a linear fashion as ramp slope increased. The amount of time it took to load and unload pigs was affected by bedding type and ramp angle. Overall, the use of selected bedding types minimized slips, falls, and vocalizations and improved animal welfare.

Abstract

The use of non-slip surfaces during loading and unloading of weaned pigs plays an important role in animal welfare and economics of the pork industry. Currently, the guidelines available only suggest the use of ramps below 20° to load and unload pigs. Three ramp angles (0°, 10° or 20°), five bedding materials (nothing, sand, feed, wood shavings or wheat straw hay), two moistures (dry or wet bedding; >50% moisture) over two seasons (>23.9 °C summer, <23.9 °C winter) were assessed for slips/falls/vocalizations (n = 6,000 pig observations). "Score" was calculated by the sum of slips, falls, and vocalizations. With the exception of using feed as a bedding, all beddings provided some protection against elevated slips, falls, and vocalizations (P < 0.01). Providing bedding reduced (P < 0.05) scores regardless of whether the bedding was dry or wet. Scores increased as the slope increased (P < 0.01). Provision of bedding, other than feed, at slopes greater than zero, decreased slips, falls and vocalizations. The total time it took to load and unload pigs was affected by bedding type, ramp angle, and season (P < 0.05). Minimizing slips, falls, and vocalizations when loading and unloading pigs improved animal welfare. View Full-Text
Keywords: weaning pigs; ramp; slips; falls; vocalizations; animal welfare weaning pigs; ramp; slips; falls; vocalizations; animal welfare
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Garcia, A.; McGlone, J.J. Loading and Unloading Weaned Pigs: Effects of Bedding Types, Ramp Angle, and Bedding Moisture. Animals 2014, 4, 742-754.

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