This study was initiated to understand whether feeding behaviour and physiology may contribute to the rate of fatigued pigs at processing plants. Specifically, this study sought to determine: (1) how often pigs eat during the day, (2) the times of the day they eat and (3) a first approximation of the time from feed consumption to excretion (rate of passage) when housed in a group in conventional finishing facilities. Finally, models were constructed to try to predict the percentage of pigs with empty/diminished gastrointestinal (GI) tracts depending on the time of day of truck loading and transport durations. Pigs were randomly selected, weighed and selected for behavioural observations. From video records and live observations, the number of meals (feeding bouts) per day and the time of the day meals took place were recorded. Feed containing chromic oxide was fed to determine when a given meal was excreted. With the feeding times of day determined, models were constructed of the percentage of pigs that would have empty stomachs depending on the time of day pigs were removed from the barn and the length of transport/lairage. Finishing pigs housed in groups ate 5.6 ± 0.6 meals per day with an average feeding bout (meal) length of 11.3 ± 1.1 min. Many pigs fed ad libitum ate most of their meals during the afternoon and evening. The rate of passage of feed was 20.5 h (range = 18 to 24 h). Because fewer pigs ate in the late evening through morning, if pigs were shipped at these times they would have an increased risk of arriving at the stun at a plant with an empty GI tract. Some of the variation in rates of fatigued pigs and pork quality may be explained by times of day taken off feed and transport duration. Shipping in the afternoon or early evening may result in fewer pigs with empty/diminished GI tracts at processing which may influence the rate of fatigued pigs and pork quality.
- Fatigued pig
- Feed passage