Temperament Traits Related to Stress and Meat Quality: Are they Reliable and Heritable?
Welfare, ease of handling, stockperson labour required to move and productivity are all influenced by the susceptibility of pigs to stress. Severe losses for packers and producers often arise from stress during transport and handling of pigs at marketing. This includes in-transit death losses, reduced meat quality and carcass damage. Temperamental differences significantly affect how pigs handle stressful situations and their meat quality. Temperament may be heritable, and if it is, a breeding stock could be selected based off of temperament tests based on stress response in order to reduce stress in future offspring. Different behavioural tests were evaluated based on their ability to accurately determine temperament traits related to the pigs stress response. Simple behavioural tests can be used to distinguish between temperament traits in pigs. Correlations were found in temperament in the first and second generation offspring. Saliva cortisol concentration was correlated with temperament classifications as well. Pigs may be able to be selected for a reduced stress response, with the analysis of temperament heritability ongoing.