Article Text

Effects of abattoir and slaughter handling systems on stress indicators in pig blood
  1. CM Weeding,
  2. EJ Hunter,
  3. HJ Guise and
  4. RH Penny
  1. Cambac JMA Research Unit 4, Woodcote, Reading.


Pigs from four farms were slaughtered at two abattoirs, each with two slaughter handling systems. Pigs at abattoir X were electrically stunned, either in a floor pen holding five pigs or in a race-restrainer. At abattoir Y pigs were stunned either in a floor pen holding five pigs or in a dip-lift carbon dioxide stunner. At exsanguination, 96 blood samples (24/farm) were collected from pigs slaughtered through each slaughter handling system (384 samples in total). Serum samples were analysed for cortisol, creatine phosphokinase (CPK) lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) and LDH-isoenzymes. There were no significant differences between the systems at abattoir X. At abattoir Y, pigs slaughtered through the floor pen system had higher levels of LDH-5 (39.84 +/- 1.39 per cent of total LDH vs 34.76 +/- 1.21 per cent, P < 0.05) indicating greater skeletal muscle damage in the floor pen. Pigs at abattoir Y had higher mean serum levels of CPK than pigs at abattoir X (3.63 log10 U/litre vs 3.41 log10 U/litre, 0.03 sed, P < 0.001), higher total LDH activities (1269.5 U/litre vs 922.8 U/litre, P < 0.001) and higher cortisol concentrations (1.70 log10 ng/ml vs 1.51 log10 ng/ml, P < 0.001). These differences suggested that the levels of physical and psychological stress were higher at abattoir Y.

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