Effects of floor space during transport and journey time on indicators of stress and transport losses of market-weight pigs

C. M. Pilcher, M. Ellis, A. Rojo-Gómez, S. E. Curtis, B. F. Wolter, C. M. Peterson, B. A. Peterson, M. J. Ritter, J. Brinkmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effects of floor space on the trailer and journey time during transport from the farm to the packing plant on indicators of stress (open-mouth breathing, muscle tremors, and skin discoloration) and on the incidence of transport losses (dead on arrival, nonambulatory, noninjured, and nonambulatory, injured) were evaluated in a study involving 160 loads of market-weight pigs (BW 124.7 ± 4.38 kg) using a splitplot design with a 2 × 6 factorial arrangement of treatments: 1) journey time [main plot; short (<1 h) and long (3 h)] and 2) floor space (subplot; 0.396, 0.415, 0.437, 0.462, 0.489, and 0.520 m 2/pig, which is equivalent to 0.317, 0.332, 0.350, 0.370, 0.391, and 0.416 m 2/100 kg of BW, respectively). Two consecutively loaded trailers were randomly allotted to journey time treatment. Floor space treatments were compared in the front 3 compartments on the top and bottom decks of the trailer and were created by varying the number of pigs per compartment, which confounds the effect of floor space with group size. Of the 17,652 pigs transported in 954 test compartments, 0.24% died or became nonambulatory. Neither journey time nor floor space had an effect (P > 0.05) on the incidence of dead and nonambulatory, injured pigs, or on total transport losses. There were interactions (P < 0.05) between journey time and floor space treatments for the incidences of nonambulatory, noninjured pigs and open-mouth breathing. For 2 of the smallest floor spaces (0.415 and 0.437 m 2/pig), the incidence of nonambulatory, noninjured pigs was greater on short than on long journeys; for the other 4 floor spaces there was no effect (P > 0.05) of journey time. The incidence of open-mouth breathing for the 3 smallest floor spaces was greater (P < 0.05) for short than long journeys, whereas there was no effect (P > 0.05) of journey time for the 3 greatest floor spaces. The frequency of skin discoloration was greater (P < 0.001) for pigs transported at the 2 smallest floor spaces compared with the other 4 floor spaces. In summary, short journey time increased the frequency of indicators of stress after unloading at the plant for pigs transported at smaller floor spaces and also increased the incidence of nonambulatory, noninjured pigs at 2 of the 3 smallest floor spaces. However, neither transport floor space nor journey time had an effect on total losses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3809-3818
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • Floor space
  • Journey time
  • Pig
  • Transport loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of floor space during transport and journey time on indicators of stress and transport losses of market-weight pigs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this