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Reducing Risk of Pigs Becoming Fatigued

by 5m Editor
29 March 2011, at 9:06am

CANADA - Elanco Animal Health reports a few simple changes can often go a long way toward reducing the stresses that can result in losses due to pigs becoming fatigued, according to Bruce Cochrane.

The stresses that can cause pigs to become fatigued include everything from the temperature of the barn to density in the pens to handling during loading and transport.

The recognizable early symptoms include open mouthed breathing, skin discoloration and refusal to move.

Over the past four years Elanco has been working with producers to conduct load site assessments to help identify and reduce those stresses.

Corporate pork account manager for western Canada and Ontario Don Down says the assessments look at handling prior to transport, building and load-out design, handling during loading, vocalization of workers and pigs and the behavior of the handlers and the drivers.

Don Down-Elanco Animal Health

Some of the key points that I have discovered through these assessments is producers may be trying to move too many hogs at once up the ramp and that's quite often an issue on the top deck.

Communication with the driver, compartment planning, weights and numbers, making sure that they're on the same page, sorting hogs in the barn and making sure that there's no heavy stress through fighting and stuff a little bit of time before the hogs go on the trailer, we need to avoid high stress hogs being loaded.

Avoid loading the truck too soon and arriving at the plant and then sitting for an hour or so before they unload.

Ultimately that just leads to stress on the trailer and they might as well be in the barn so it's good communication and planning for your dock time.

Those are some of the key things that we have learned.

Some others would be, if those pigs are moving, leave them alone.

It's not a race, let them move at their own pace and let them be.


Mr Down says, by improving animal handling and welfare, we know we're improving meat quality, we're helping decrease trim loss and we're helping reduce transport loss, all factors that can improve the bottom line of the farm.