“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.

  1. 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.
  2. Set-up and loading of trailer
    Compartments gated, trailer loaded at right density, trailer aligned well with dock, incompatible livestock segregated.
  3. 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.
  4. Vocalization
    Vocalization may be sign of discomfort and stress in swine. Vocalization may also be an indication of prod.
  5. 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.
  6. Willful acts of abuse/egregious acts
    If a willful act of abuse is observed, the audit will be failed.
  7. Access to water
    Non-ambulatory animals should be provided with shallow water pans, buckets, or water sources within easy reach.