Effects of season and distance moved during loading on transport losses of market-weight pigs in two commercially n available types of trailer

M. J. Ritter, M. Ellis, R. Bowman, J. Brinkmann, S. E. Curtis, J. M. DeDecker, O. Mendoza, C. M. Murphy, D. G. Orellana, B. A. Peterson, A. Rojo, J. M. Schlipf, B. F. Wolter

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This study evaluated effects of trailer design and season on physical indicators of stress during loading and unloading and transport losses (dead and nonambulatory pigs) in market-weight pigs (BW = 129.6 ± 0.40 kg). A total of 109 trailer loads of pigs (n = 17,256 pigs) from 1 farm were used in a randomized complete block design with a 2 × 4 factorial arrangement of treatments: 1) trailer design (pot-belly vs. straight-deck) and 2) season (spring vs. summer vs. fall vs. winter). A subset of loads (n = 42) was used to examine effect of distance pigs were moved during loading [short (<24 m) vs. long (47 to 67 m)] on physical indicators of stress and transport losses. This study was conducted on 7 d per season at 1 farm with 4 loads (2 on pot-belly and 2 on straight-deck trailers) being transported each day to 1 commercial packing plant. Pigs from different farm groups were mixed on the trailer and provided with 0.45 m2/pig floor space during an approximately 4-h journey to the plant. The percentage of pigs exhibiting open-mouth breathing, skin discoloration, and muscle tremors was recorded during loading and unloading. Additionally, dead pigs on arrival at the plant and nonambulatory pigs at the farm and at the plant were recorded. Effects of trailer design on open-mouth breathing and skin discoloration during unloading were dependent on season (trailer design x season interaction; P < 0.05). Pigs unloaded from pot-belly trailers had a greater (P < 0.05) incidence of open-mouth breathing in the spring and summer and a greater (P < 0.05) incidence of skin discoloration in the spring, summer, and winter than pigs unloaded from straight-deck trailers. The incidence of total nonambulatory pigs at the plant was greater (P < 0.05) in the winter than in the spring and summer. The long compared with short distance moved treatment resulted in a greater (P < 0.001) incidence of open-mouth breathing and skin discoloration during loading and tended (P = 0.06) to increase the incidence of nonambulatory pigs at the farm. However, there was no effect of trailer design, season, or loading distance on total losses at the plant. In summary, physical indicators of stress (open-mouth breathing and skin discoloration) were increased with the long distance moved during loading treatment and were greater during unloading for pot-belly than straight-deck trailers; however, trailer design, season, and loading distance had minimal effects on total transport losses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3137-3145
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2008


  • Distance moved
  • Nonambulatory
  • Pig
  • Season
  • Trailer design
  • Transport loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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