The use of non-slip surfaces during loading and unloading of weaned pigs plays an important role in animal welfare and economics of the pork industry. Currently, the guidelines available only suggest the use of ramps below 20° to load and unload pigs. Three ramp angles (0°, 10° or 20°), five bedding materials (nothing, sand, feed, wood shavings or wheat straw hay), two moistures (dry or wet bedding; >50% moisture) over two seasons (>23.9 °C summer, <23.9 °C winter) were assessed for slips/falls/vocalizations (n = 6,000 pig observations). “Score” was calculated by the sum of slips, falls, and vocalizations. With the exception of using feed as a bedding, all beddings provided some protection against elevated slips, falls, and vocalizations (P < 0.01). Providing bedding reduced (P < 0.05) scores regardless of whether the bedding was dry or wet. Scores increased as the slope increased (P < 0.01). Provision of bedding, other than feed, at slopes greater than zero, decreased slips, falls and vocalizations. The total time it took to load and unload pigs was affected by bedding type, ramp angle, and season (P < 0.05). Minimizing slips, falls, and vocalizations when loading and unloading pigs improved animal welfare.
- Animal welfare
- Weaning pigs