Weaner Transport: Journey Duration Influences Piglet Physiology
Meat quality and animal welfare are negatively affected by transport as it is a stressful experience, but an integral part of pork production. Factors that affect market pigs include stocking density, vibrations, temperature fluctuations, total time off food and water and noise. Weaned piglets will likely be similarly affected, though little has been researched on it. Neutrophil to lymphocyte ratios were higher after long journeys in piglets compared to shorter journeys. This shows that physiological stress is occurring and can cause immune cell responses. Weight loss was noted in long haul journeys, probably from the prolonged fasting period they experienced. Average daily gain increased for the three days after transport, most likely to make up for the fasting. The number of dead piglets throughout the nursery phase was higher in the short transportation group indicating that the length of trip does not increase mortality but transport conditions do. Long haul journeys in the summer affected the piglets the most with a larger decrease in average daily gain and greater physiological stress.