Loading and Unloading Finishing Pigs: Effects of Bedding Types, Ramp Angle, and Bedding Moisture
Department of Animal and Food Sciences, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Clive J. C. Phillips
Received: 2 October 2014 / Accepted: 18 December 2014 / Published: 31 December 2014
Current guidelines suggest the use of ramps below 20 degrees to load and unload pigs; however, they do not suggest the use of any specific bedding. Bedding types (nothing, feed, sand, wood shavings, and hay) were tested with finishing pigs (70–120 kg) to determine which was most effective in reducing slips, falls, and vocalizations at three ramp angles, two moisture levels, over two seasons. Slips, falls, and vocalizations were summed to establish a scoring system for the types of beddings. Heart rate and the total time it took to load and unload pigs, increased as the slope increased. Bedding, bedding moisture, season, and ramp slope interacted to impact the total time it took for finishing pigs to load and unload the ramp. Selection of the best bedding depends on ramp slope, season, and wetness of bedding.