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The Effects of Using a Ramp and Elevator to Load and Unload Trailers on the Behavior and Physiology of Piglets

Animal and Food Sciences, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2014, 4(3), 535-545;
Received: 21 March 2014 / Revised: 3 September 2014 / Accepted: 3 September 2014 / Published: 11 September 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pig Transport)
Transport is a routine practice in the modern swine industry. Loading the pigs into trailers can be a novel and stressful experience for the animals. This study compared behaviors and physiological variables during and after loading using a ramp or elevator to determine which method is the least stressful to the pigs. Loading pigs by ramp appears to cause more stress than loading by elevator.
Transport is an inevitable process in the modern U.S. swine industry. The loading process is a novel and potentially stressful experience. This study uses behavior, heart rate and leukocyte counts to compare stress one hour before, during and after loading via ramp or elevator. Piglets were held in a home pen (control (CON)), walked up and down an aisle (handled (HAN)), or walked to a truck and loaded via elevator (ELE) or ramp (RAM). Sitting, feeding and blood parameters did not show a significant treatment by time effect (p > 0.05). Standing behavior did not differ between CON and HAN piglets nor between RAM and ELE piglets (p > 0.05); however, CON and HAN piglets stood more than RAM and ELE piglets during treatment (p < 0.05). After treatment, drinking behavior was increased in RAM piglets (p < 0.05). The heart rate of ELE piglets decreased 6.3% after treatment; whereas the heart rate of RAM piglets remained elevated 2.4% (p < 0.05). In terms of heart rate, loading by elevator appears to be less stressful than loading by ramp. View Full-Text
Keywords: elevator; piglets; ramp; welfare elevator; piglets; ramp; welfare
MDPI and ACS Style

McGlone, J.; Sapkota, A. The Effects of Using a Ramp and Elevator to Load and Unload Trailers on the Behavior and Physiology of Piglets. Animals 2014, 4, 535-545.

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