Review: Transport Losses in Market Weight Pigs: I. A Review of Definitions, Incidence, and Economic Impact

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2009-08-01
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Ritter, M. J.
Ellis, M.
Berry, N. L.
Curtis, S E.
Anil, L.
Berg, E.
Benjamin, M.
Butler, D.
Dewey, C.
Driessen, B
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Johnson, Anna
Professor Animal Behavior and Welfare
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Animal Science

The Department of Animal Science originally concerned itself with teaching the selection, breeding, feeding and care of livestock. Today it continues this study of the symbiotic relationship between animals and humans, with practical focuses on agribusiness, science, and animal management.

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The Department of Animal Husbandry was established in 1898. The name of the department was changed to the Department of Animal Science in 1962. The Department of Poultry Science was merged into the department in 1971.

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Abstract

Transport losses (dead and nonambulatory pigs) present animal welfare, legal, and economic challenges to the US swine industry. The objectives of this review are to explore 1) the historical perspective of transport losses; 2) the incidence and economic implications of transport losses; and 3) the symptoms and metabolic characteristics of fatigued pigs. In 1933 and 1934, the incidence of dead and nonambulatory pigs was reported to be 0.08 and 0.16%, respectively. More recently, 23 commercial field trials (n = 6,660,569 pigs) were summarized and the frequency of dead pigs, nonambulatory pigs, and total transport losses at the processing plant were 0.25, 0.44, and 0.69% respectively. In 2006, total economic losses associated with these transport losses were estimated to cost the US pork industry approximately $46 million. Furthermore, 0.37 and 0.05% of the nonambulatory pigs were classified as either fatigued (nonambulatory, noninjured) or injured, respectively, in 18 of these trials (n = 4,966,419 pigs). Fatigued pigs display signs of acute stress (open-mouth breathing, skin discoloration, muscle tremors) and are in a metabolic state of acidosis, characterized by low blood pH and high blood lactate concentrations; however, the majority of fatigued pigs will recover with rest. Transport losses are a multifactorial problem consisting of people, pig, facility design, management, transportation, processing plant, and environmental factors, and, because of these multiple factors, continued research efforts are needed to understand how each of the factors and the relationships among factors affect the well-being of the pig during the marketing process.

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This article is from Professional Animal Scientist 25 (2009): 404.

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