“When it comes to pig handling, the ultimate goal is healthy pigs being transported to their destination,”said Collette Kaster, executive director of the Professional Ani- mal Auditor Certification Organization (PAACO).
Kaster added that achieving this goal takes effort from the whole production chain and asking key questions:
- Is the animal being handled appropriately for its age?
- Is the animal being handled with the correct tools?
- Are the handlers trained?
She discussed guidelines from the North American Meat Institute, including seven areas to consider when auditing plant receiving practices.
- Plant transportation policy and preparedness for receiving animals
Plant has written animal welfare policy for transporters and processes in place for temperature, handling, timeliness, etc.
- Set-up and loading of trailer
Compartments gated, trailer loaded at right density, trailer aligned well with dock, incompatible livestock segregated.
- Timeliness of arrival
Animal unload starting less than 60 minutes after arrival receiving a 4/4 rating. Unload occurring more than 120 minutes after arrival receiving a 0/4 rating.
Vocalization may be sign of discomfort and stress in swine. Vocalization may also be an indication of prod.
- Electric prod use
Thresholds for prod usage should be set, with a recommendation of usage more than 25 percent for single pigs and more than 5 percent for groups of pigs being unacceptable.
- Willful acts of abuse/egregious acts
If a willful act of abuse is observed, the audit will be failed.
- Access to water
Non-ambulatory animals should be provided with shallow water pans, buckets, or water sources within easy reach.