Date Full Report Received


Date Abstract Report Received



Institution: , , ,
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Pigs are not accustomed to climbing sloped ramps. However, sloped ramps are impossible to avoid in regular management and handling practices due to design of the physical facilities at finishing sites, packing plants, and the vehicles used to transport animals. Intense handling that may occur when there is not self-movement of pigs causes strain on animal handlers and can create a welfare problem for the pigs in question. Use of a conveyor belt can reduce the difficulty of loading animals. This study examined the possibility of using a conveyor to move pigs up into a simulated top deck of a straight deck livestock trailer. Two age groups of pigs were tested, Weaned pigs and Nursery pigs. Weaned pigs were moved in groups of 20 while Nursery pigs were moved in groups of 10. Pigs used as a control treatment were herded up the ramp without the conveyor moving, thus keeping the flooring, width, and length the same for both treatments. Treatment pigs were moved using the conveyor in-motion. Heart rate of two sentinel pigs per group, as well as the handler, was recorded during loading. The body temperature of the handler was recorded using infra-red thermography. Pigs were held in the simulated trailer for 30 minutes while heart rate was recorded. After which, they were unloaded and held in a holding pen for an additional 30 minutes while heart rate was again recorded. Based on behavior and physiology the pigs had similar experiences in both treatments, thus conveying the pigs up into the trailer did not decrease their stress, nor did it increase it. Pigs being moved onto the moving conveyor did balk for a few more seconds than when the conveyor was not moving (Control pigs); but total time to load was the same. This study shows that it is feasible to use a conveyor to load pigs and is not detrimental, but it may not be advantageous either.