The degree of development of rigor mortis in the carcases of slaughter pigs was assessed subjectively on a three-point scale 35 minutes after they were exsanguinated, and related to the levels of cortisol, lactate and creatine kinase in blood collected at exsanguination. Earlier rigor development was associated with higher concentrations of these stress indicators in the blood. This relationship suggests that the mean rigor score, and the frequency distribution of carcases that had or had not entered rigor, could be used as an index of the degree of stress to which the pigs had been subjected.
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