Ease of handling, physiological response, skin lesions and meat quality in pigs transported in two truck types


Dalla Costa, F.A., Da Costa, M.J.R.P., Faucitano, L., Dalla Costa, O.A., Lopes, L.S., Renuncio, E. (2016). Ease of handling, physiological response, skin lesions and meat quality in pigs transported in two truck types. Archivos de medicina Veterinaria, [online] 48(3), 299-304. http://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0301-732X2016000300009

Plain language summary

Transportation is considered as the most stressful event for pigs prior to slaughter which may compromise the welfare of animals and ultimately pork quality. Within the effects of the transport factor, vehicle design plays a major role contributing to the incidence of animal losses during transport, with higher proportion of losses being associated to the use of trucks equipped with ramps when compared to other vehicle types, equipped with hydraulic decks. Due to economic reasons, the use of double and triple-decked trucks for the transport of pigs is rapidly increasing in Brazil. However, not all truck models are equipped with hydraulic decks, and those that are not use steep ramps (>20┬░) to load on and off pigs located on the upper deck. This is the first study ever that evaluated the effects of these truck models on the welfare and meat quality of pigs in Brazil. This study gives evidence that the use of the hydraulic deck in the truck to load on and off pigs improves the efficiency of transport, in terms of handling time and easiness. However, it appears that when pigs are well handled in these phases the impact of the vehicle design on skin lesions and meat quality variation is minimal. The results of this study can be applicable within the Canadian pork industry context as double and triple-decked trucks are also used for the transport of pigs to slaughter in Canada.


A total of 1,728 pigs were transported to slaughter using two double-decked trucks, one featuring a hydraulic deck (HD) to load and unload the upper level and the other presenting a fixed upper deck (FD) only accessible by a ramp. The aim of the research was to evaluate the effects of the loading and unloading system of the truck on behaviour, blood parameters (cortisol, lactate and creatine kinase [CK]), skin lesions and meat quality traits. The use of HD resulted in easier and faster loading (P < 0.05 for both) compared with the FD. Blood cortisol levels were influenced by the loading/unloading system, with lower (P < 0.05) levels being found in pigs using HD transport when compared to those using FD transport. Truck type had no effect on the incidence of skin lesions and pork quality in this study (P > 0.05). It can be concluded that the use of the truck model featuring the upper hydraulic deck should be recommended to ease of handling at loading improving animal welfare and reducing the work load of handlers.

Publication date


Author profiles