Two experiments were carried out in which a total of 602 pigs were slaughtered after being held in lairage for periods ranging from less than one hour to 21 hours. In the first experiment the pigs were handled under ideal conditions and slaughtered at the University of Bristol slaughterhouse; in the second the pigs were killed at a commercial plant. Blood samples collected at exsanguination were analysed for indices of stress. There were no consistent effects of time in lairage on the levels of lactate and creatine phosphokinase. Plasma cortisol and beta-endorphin levels were reduced by lairage for three hours or more in the first experiment and cortisol was reduced by lairage for two hours or more in the second; beta-endorphin was not measured in the second experiment. A period of rest in lairage allowed the pigs to recover from transport and the associated handling and the recovery appeared to be complete within two to three hours.
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