The effect transport and space allowance on the physiology of breeding age gilts

Pamela J. Bryer, Mhairi A. Sutherland, Brittany L. Davis, Jerry F. Smith, John J. McGlone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

Long duration transport of pigs is an important welfare issue world-wide. Current transportation legislation in the United States dictates that animals cannot be transported over 28. h without being rested and given food and water; however there is limited information available on the acute physiological effects of long distance transport on pigs. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of a 6, 12, 18, 24, or 30. h transport period on the physiology of breeding age gilts. Eight weight matched gilts were allocated to one of 15 treatment groups. Treatments included: Gilts that remained in their home pen for 6, 12, 18, 24, or 30. h (CON); Gilts that were transported for 6, 12, 18, 24, or 30. h at the transport quality assurance guidelines specified space allowance (TQA); or Gilts that were transported for 6, 12, 18, 24, or 30. h at the TQA specified space allowance plus 20% extra space (TQA+). Every 6. h, pigs in one pair of compartments (TQA and TQA+) were removed from the trailer (after a 6, 12, 18, 24, or 30. h transport period). Blood samples and body weights were collected from gilts and their respective controls before and after transport. The granulocyte to lymphocyte ratio was greater (P< 0.005) in TQA and TQA+ gilts transported for 6. h compared with controls. The percentage of lymphocyte and granulocytes, platelet counts, hemoglobin, and hematocrit concentrations were affected (P< 0.05) by transport and the duration of transport. Total white blood cell and lymphocyte counts were lower (P< 0.001) and albumin, glucose, total bilirubin, and total protein concentrations were greater (P< 0.05) in TQA and TQA+ compared to controls regardless of transport period. Creatine kinase concentrations were greater (P< 0.05) in TQA compared with controls. Percent body weight was decreased (P< 0.05) in TQA and TQA+ gilts after a 6, 12, 18, 24, and 30. h transport period compared with controls. Physiological measures of acute stress were observed in transported gilts (TQA and TQA+) after a 6. h transport period, but then returned to similar levels as non-transported control gilts. Physiological measures of dehydration and muscle breakdown were observed in gilts after transport, regardless of transport duration. Overall, these data indicate that gilts transported for a period of up to 30. h experience acute stress and changes in homeostasis probably due to dehydration, food deprivation, and transport.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-65
Number of pages8
JournalLivestock Science
Volume137
Issue number1-3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2011

Keywords

  • Animal welfare
  • Cortisol
  • Pigs
  • Reproductive performance
  • Transportation

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