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Canadian scientists investigate strategies to reduce transport stress for early weaned piglets

Research underway at institutions and on highways across eastern and western Canada will help swine transporters reduce the level of stress on pigs during transport.

26 October 2019, at 9:15am

As part of a study being conducted on behalf of Swine Innovation Porc a multi-institutional team of scientists is looking at the effects of short and long duration transport on early weaned piglets.

Speaking to Farmscape, Dr Jennifer Brown, a Research Scientist Ethology with the Prairie Swine Centre, says researchers in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario are working with commercial pork production companies.

"We have gathered data on four short transports and four long transports," explains Dr Brown.

"It's an awful lot of information so far and we're still in the process of collating that all into data sheets so we can analyse it properly to evaluate whether the impact of the short or the long transport is any different and what measures are different and what they can tell us about the impact on weaned pigs.

"Going forward we have a couple of other experiments planned, one comparing the different types of trailers.

young pigs being transported

"Certainly everyone knows we've got some newer models of trailers that have hydraulic decks and more controlled ventilation to control the temperature.

"So comparing a similar length of transport with a standard pot bellied trailer and comparing that to the more modern and controlled climate of hydraulic deck trailer and seeing the difference in the effects of those different trailer types.

"Then from there we will also look at different interventions that could be used to mediate any stress that pigs are experiencing such as providing electrolytes, either before or after transport to prepare them or help them recover from that transport stress or else possibly the provision of food or water on the trailer."

Dr Brown says the goal to provide practical advice the industry can apply when transporting early weaned pigs and information to help regulators make policy decisions around the transport of animals.