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Improving Loading Facilities and Methods to Minimize Stress on Animals During Transport from Farm to Abattoir

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan www.asabe.org

Citation:  2012 IX International Livestock Environment Symposium (ILES IX)  ILES12-1687.(doi:10.13031/2013.41585)
Authors:   Girma Gebresenbet, Techane Bosona, Emanuel Bobobee
Keywords:   Sweden, Animal transport, Animal Welfare, Heart rate, Ramp angle

Transport and handlings of slaughter animals are associated with series of stressful activities. The main objective of this study was to improve loading methods and facilities to minimize the prevailing adverse effects on animal welfare during transport. The study was conducted using cattle from animal farms in Uppsala, Sweden. Data on loading ramp, loading dock, heart rate, and behavioral alteration were gathered. Animal heart rate was measured using POLAR Vantage, before transport, during transport and unloading. The angle of ramps in the farms ranged from 5 to 29 degree. Loading, unloading and confinement in the stunning box were the most stressful activities. During loading, heart rate elevated by 42.5% when leaving their original place and turn 180 degree, by 39% when moving to the loading gate and by 75% when climbing the ramp. Heart rate increased significantly (p<0.007) with an increase of ramp angle. When loading dock was used, the increase in heart rate was marginal (10% to 23%), while it was 75% without loading dock. About 72% of loose animals and 89% of tied animals strongly refused to climb the ramp and enter the vehicle. The common behavior alterations observed were defecation, refusal to turn, urination, and vocalization/balking. Floor with rubber mat had the highest friction coefficient of 0.720.024 BPN (British Pendulum Number) and concrete slates had the lowest friction coefficient (0.390.028 BPN). Incidence of slippery was observed more in tied animals than in loose animals. About 5.7% of observed animals (280 animals) had elongated and curled hooves.

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