Loading and transporting heavyweight hogs in summer time warmth


In terms of transportation, many elements needs to be thought of to reduce stress and improve pig welfare. These embody climate circumstances, trailer and facility upkeep, pig health for transport and handler/driver conduct. All these elements can have a pronounced unfavorable impact on pig welfare and meat high quality.

Specifically, climate and the unfavorable impacts of scorching environmental circumstances and the related dangers for unfavorable welfare, needs to be thought of this summer time. Excessive ambient temperatures and humidity ranges have a better impact on heavy pigs on account of their lack of sweat glands and thick subcutaneous fats. Moreover, the common reside weight of pigs has elevated every decade, from a mean reside weight of 243 to 290 kilos from 1984 to 20221, respectively.

Analysis reveals that the speed of useless on arrivals is larger in the summertime, with will increase in DOAs seen in temperatures starting from 70 levels to over 100 levels Fahrenheit.2,3,4 Moreover, the month-to-month incidence of useless pigs (DOA and useless in pen) from USDA-inspected vegetation is illustrated in Determine 1 for the calendar years 1991-2022.5* Latest revealed work signifies the share of useless pigs arriving at packing vegetation are highest in the course of the months of July, August and September.4

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Determine 1. Proportion of useless market pigs at USDA-inspected vegetation for the calendar years 1991-2022.5*

When transporting pigs in the summertime, key points that must be thought of embody applicable loading/unloading practices, correct facility/trailer design and upkeep, transport preparations and communication, good driving practices, correct setup for climate circumstances and guaranteeing pigs are match for transport. Correct administration of all these areas be certain that producers, handlers and transporters contribute to optimistic pig welfare outcomes and improved meat high quality.

The welfare dangers related to dealing with and transporting heavyweight pigs throughout scorching climate circumstances emphasizes the significance of minimizing stress on pigs all through the advertising and marketing course of, notably in the course of the summer time. Listed here are issues with some sensible dealing with suggestions to assist hold your pigs secure and wholesome in the course of the summer time months.

Services needs to be correctly designed, constructed and in good restore with purposeful tools in place earlier than loading or unloading pigs:

  • Lighting: Keep away from areas that swap from gentle to darkish, areas which have sturdy shadows or gentle shining into the eyes of the pig, all which may discourage motion.
  • Alleyways and doorways: Doorways needs to be not less than the identical width because the alleyway, and the door ought to open utterly to remove pinch factors. Keep away from thresholds on the ground of the doorway to scale back balking.
  • Ramps and chutes: The loading chute needs to be designed to facilitate straightforward pig motion, cut back incidence of slips and falls and keep away from harm and stress to the pig. Ramps needs to be 20 levels or much less.

Livestock trailers needs to be designed and maintained in a fashion that’s conducive to the humane transport of pigs:

  • Flooring: The trailer ought to have non-slip strong flooring.
  • Gates and Doorways: All ought to open and shut freely; they need to be capable to be secured shut and never have gaps.
  • Inside ramps: They ought to sit flush, with panels/rails in place to forestall animals from falling off the aspect. Ramps shouldn’t be so steep they trigger animals to slide, and needs to be constructed of non-slip materials.
  • Drain plugs: Guarantee drain plugs are securely in place previous to loading pigs on the trailer.
  • Lighting: Trailer inside needs to be geared up with enough lighting if loading or unloading trailers in the dead of night.
  • Wetting pigs: Any bathe/wetting mechanism used to chill pigs on board needs to be in good working order, particularly in heat to scorching temperatures.

Farms and vegetation ought to have enough unloading capability so vehicles can unload promptly:

  • Unloading ramps: Ought to have a leveled dock earlier than the ramps go down so animals might stroll on a degree floor once they exit the truck. A great goal for the ramp slope is not more than 20 levels.
  • Stair steps: Really useful on concrete ramps as a result of they supply higher traction than cleats or grooves when ramps are soiled.
  • Flooring and ramp surfaces: Ought to be non-slip to keep away from harm.

When getting ready to ship market weight pigs, bear in mind:

  • Routinely transfer pigs from their residence pen to the loadout space in the course of the grow-finish interval.6
  • Presort market weight pigs previous to loading. Presorting is proven to lower the share of useless and non-ambulatory pigs on the packing plant by 66% and reduce bodily indicators of stress throughout loading and unloading.7
  • Withdraw feed for 16-24 hours previous to loading.6
  • Put together the services for loadout.Put together the barn for motion by eradicating visible gaps between pens and distracting components.
  • Loading crews and drivers ought to talk about the next info previous to loading:
    • Variety of pigs to load, estimated weight of the pigs and barn minimize.
    • Entry a climate report previous to loading. Overview the Livestock Sizzling Climate Security Index (Determine 2) and your system’s customary working procedures for bedding and showering pigs. Drivers ought to modify trailer settings to match the environmental circumstances on the farm.
    • Schedule transportation early within the morning or at evening.
    • The plant the place pigs are being shipped.
    • Any particular loading instruction (culls, split-load, and many others.).

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Determine 2. The Livestock Sizzling Climate Security Index. *8

When loading/unloading animals, bear in mind:

  • Modify load measurement in accordance with trailer size, pig weight and climate.
    • Through the summer time months, loading densities mustn’t exceed 55-58 lbs/ft2.
    • Develop a “cheat sheet” for the variety of pigs to be loaded into every compartment for frequent pig weights in your system (i.e. 250 lbs, 275 lbs, 300 lbs, 325 lbs, 350 lbs).
    • Transport losses enhance with load weights underneath 46,000 lbs and over 48,000 lbs.
    • Observe the transport area suggestions (Determine 3) to regulate trailer loadings as pig weights change.
  • All pigs introduced for transport have to be match for transport. Loading unfit or compromised pigs is unacceptable and thought of an outright act of animal abuse.

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Determine 3. Transport area suggestions by the Nationwide Pork Board’s Transport High quality Assurance (TQA) Handbook.*8

When transporting animals, drivers ought to bear in mind to:

  • Guarantee the protection of the general public, animals and themselves whereas on the street.
  • Reply to move conditions professionally.
  • Uphold the welfare and humane remedy of the animals.
  • Defend firm property (e.g., the animals, tools).
  • Venture a optimistic notion of the corporate and the business.
  • Observe secure dealing with of animals and cautious, accountable driving to forestall bruises, accidents and stress in pigs.
  • Modify driving appropriately for street, climate and site visitors circumstances.
  • Keep away from distractions corresponding to consuming, consuming, speaking on the telephone, studying, texting or reaching for gadgets on the ground or throughout the seat.


  1. USDA. Nationwide Agricultural Statistics Service, Fast Stats. Obtainable right here. Accessed June 23, 2023.
  2. Texas Tech College, Laboratory of Animal Habits, Physiology and Welfare. Pig transport throughout heat climate. Obtainable right here. Accessed Might 16, 2022.
  3. Sutherland MA, McDonald A, McGlone JJ. Results of variations within the setting, size of journey and sort of trailer on the mortality and morbidity of pigs being transported to slaughter. Vet. File. 165:13-18. (Abstr.). 2009.
  4. Ritter MJ, Yoder CL, Jones CL, et al. Transport losses in market weight pigs: II. US incidence and financial impression. Trans. Anim. Sci. 4:1-10. 2022.
  5. Elanco Animal Well being. Knowledge on File.
  6. Ritter M, Ellis M, Johnson AK. Administration Methods to Scale back Transport losses in market weight pigs. Factsheet, Pork Info Gateway. PIG 05-06-07. Obtainable right here. Accessed Might 16, 2022.
  7. Johnson A, Sadler L, Gesing LM, et al. Results of facility system design on the stress responses and market losses of market-weight pigs throughout loading and unloading. Prof. Anim. Sci. 26:9-17. 2010.
  8. Nationwide Pork Board. Transport High quality Assurance (TQA) Handbook model 7. Accessed Might 16, 2022.


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