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Comparison of the effects of fan-assisted and natural ventilation of vehicles on the welfare of pigs being transported to slaughter
  1. P. D. Warriss, BSc, PhD, CBiol, MIBiol, FIFST1,
  2. S. N. Brown, MIBiol1,
  3. T. G. Knowles, BSc, MSc, PhD, CStat, CBiol, MIBiol1,
  4. L. J. Wilkins, HNC, MIBiol1,
  5. S. J. Pope, BSc1,
  6. S. A. Chadd, BSc, PhD, CBiol, MIBiol2,
  7. P. J. Kettlewell, BSc, CEng, FRAgS, FIAgrE3 and
  8. N. R. Green3
  1. 1School of Veterinary Science, University of Bristol, Langford, Bristol BS40 5DU
  2. 2Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester, Gloucestershire GL7 6JS
  3. 3Silsoe Research Institute, Wrest Park, Silsoe, Bedford MK45 4HS

Abstract

A total of 417 pigs with an estimated average liveweight of 91 kg were transported to slaughter in three journeys, carried out in late June, each consisting of a three-hour drive followed by a one-hour holding period at the slaughter plant before they were unloaded. The pigs were accommodated on the lower two decks of a three-deck articulated lorry, each deck having five equal-sized pens; half were kept in naturally ventilated pens and half in pens with fan-assisted ventilation. The pigs’ body temperature was recorded as the temperature of the blood lost at exsanguination, and as the temperature of the inner surface of the ear measured by thermal imaging. The pigs carried on the upper deck were hotter than those carried on the lower deck, and the pigs carried at the front of the vehicle were hotter than those at the back. There were small differences between the temperatures of the pigs in the different pens, but overall the temperatures of the pigs kept in pens with fan-assisted ventilation were no lower than those of the pigs kept in pens with natural ventilation. The higher temperature of the pigs transported in the front of the vehicle was associated with significantly higher serum concentrations of cortisol and activities of creatine kinase, and a tendency to higher albumin concentrations and osmolality, suggesting that they may have been exposed to more physical and psychological stress, and were possibly slightly more dehydrated, than the pigs in the rearmost pens. The type of ventilation had no effect on the blood composition of the pigs.

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