According to Smith and Grandin (1999): (a) Most of those in the production, marketing, transportation and packing sectors of the U.S. meat-animal industry practice good husbandry, have a caring attitude about animals and their welfare, and handle animals appropriately, while a tiny fraction of people do not. (b) Those few who either do not know, or do not care, that inappropriate/improper handling can cause problems and that proper handling can improve products and profitability, require enlightenment. (c) If animal handling is exemplary, little or nothing will be gained by attempting to improve it; but, if, in any sector, there is room for improvement in animal handling, attempts to rectify situations that compromise products/profitability will be well worth the effort. Grandin (2000a) says there was a gradual improvement in the quality of livestock handling and stockmanship in the US industry between 1970 and 1990; since 1990, the influence of companies that purchase huge quantities of animal-protein food products (e.g., McDonald’s) in demanding proper treatment of livestock has dramatically increased the rate at which progress has been made in improving animal care and handling.
According to Broom (2000): (a) The welfare of an animal is its state as regards its attempts to cope with its environment; for each coping system, the environment is that which is external to the system. (b) One important part of the animal’s state is that which involves attempts to cope with pathology (i.e., the health of the animal); so, health is part of welfare. (c) Feelings are a part of many mechanisms for attempting to cope with good and bad aspects of life and most feelings must have evolved because of their beneficial effects; so, they are also an important part of welfare. (d) The extent to which coping attempts are succeeding and the amount which has to be done in order to cope must both be considered as a part of welfare. (e) The scientific assessment of welfare must be quite separate from any moral judgment; there is variation among people with respect to how poor the welfare of a farm animal has to be before they consider it to be intolerable. (f) The many mechanisms which exist within most animals for trying to cope with their environment and the various consequences of failure to cope, mean that there are many possible measures of welfare.
Smith and Grandin (1998) believe proper handling of meat animals can improve productivity, quality and profitability; so, it is just good business to do it right. Appropriate handling weakens arguments by animal rightists/welfarists that those in the production and packing sectors do not have a caring attitude about the animals in their charge (Smith and Grandin, 1998). Grandin and Smith (1999) believe that: (a) The most important factor determining whether a production/packing enterprise has good or bad animal welfare practices is the attitude of management personnel. (b) The companies that have good animal welfare practices have a top manager who “cares” about animal welfare; as upper-management personnel change, animal welfare practices can improve or decline, depending largely upon the attitude of the new people. (c) The best facilities and the latest technology make handling livestock easier but unless the owner or manager is convinced that proper handling practices are economically rewarding, it is unlikely that the employees will routinely follow appropriate practices and procedures. (d) The manager that is most effective in maintaining high animal welfare standards is involved enough in the day-to-day operations to know and care, but not so involved that he/she becomes numb and desensitized (Grandin, 2000c).
Livestock are transported by land (road or rail), sea and air. Livestock are most often transported to achieve translocation immediately prior to harvest but also to move them to sources of less expensive or more abundant feed supplies (for growth or fattening), because of changes in ownership, for breeding purposes, to enter intensive production units or for exhibition in shows or contests. Tarrant and Grandin (2000) characterized the transport process as: (a) Beginning with assembly and including loading, confinement with and without motion, unloading, and penning in a new and unfamiliar environment. (b) During transport, animals are exposed to environmental stresses including heat, cold, humidity, noise, motion and social regrouping., (c) Transportation by its nature is an unfamiliar and threatening event in the life of an animal. (d) Transportation involves a series of handling and confinement situations which are unavoidably stressful and can lead to distress, injury or even death of the animal unless properly planned and carried out. (e) Transportation often coincides with a change in ownership whereby responsibility for the animal’s welfare may be compromised.
Gonyou (2000) described “Behavioural Principles Of Animal Handling And Transport” drawing the following conclusions: (a) Handling and transport involve two distinct types of action—movement to a new location, and remaining stationary. It is generally advisable to use the minimal amount of attractive or repulsive force as possible in moving animals; and, when using any means of restraint, it is necessary to weigh the benefits of a controlled animal against the distress it causes the animal. (b) Behavioral features related to handling and transport include the flocking instinct, visual field and flight distance; genetics, sex and previous experience also influence the response of animals. (c) Important in handling and transport of animals are these human/animal interactions—stockmanship (stockpersons realizing that their attitude and consequent behavior affects the animal’s productivity and welfare), exposing animals to human contact before it is required for management routines, and having some persons be responsible for the most aversive procedures and other persons be responsible for the day-to-day management of the animals. (d) Movement is enhanced if the physical environment—the equipment and penning—is attractive to the animal and does not provoke fear.
Grandin (1997) discussed “Assessment Of Stress During Handling And Transport” emphasizing the following: (a) Studies to determine the amount of stress on farm animals during routine handling and transport often have highly variable results and are difficult to interpret from an animal welfare standpoint. (b) Much of the variability between handling and transport studies is likely to be due to different levels of psychological or “fear,” stress. (c) Animals can undergo psychological stresses (restraint, handling, novelty) or physical stresses (hunger, thirst, fatigue, injury, thermal extremes). (d) Fear responses in a particular situation are difficult to predict because they depend on how the animal perceives the handling or transport experience and because the animal’s reactions will be governed by a complex interaction of genetic factors and previous experiences. (e) Fear pheromones confound studies of handling and transport stress because they are secreted late (10 to 15 minutes after the insult) and only after extreme agitation. (f) Common physiological measures of stress are cortisol, beta endorphin and heart rate; creatine phosphokinase and lactate are useful measures for assessing handling stresses in pigs. (g) Studies to assess animal welfare during handling and transport should contain both behavioral and physiological measurements.
Siegel and Gross (2000) described key elements of “General Principles Of Stress And Well-Being” as follows: (a) Responses of animals to their environments are easier to evaluate when viewed as aims and strategies for survival; stress is a norm in social animals and may or may not be damaging. (b) Degree of stress can be related to performance efficiency inasmuch as performance will be enhanced as arousal increases but only up to a certain point or optimal level because exceeding the optimum leads to inefficiency. (c) The stress system allows animals to allocate resources based on their perception of the environment as well as direct physical insults from the environment but, there may be considerable variation among individuals in their perception of the stressfulness of an event, absorption of glucocorticoids from the blood and response of tissues to glucocorticoids. (d) Levels of stress can be estimated by presence of diseases; when stress levels are too high, viral diseases and other diseases which stimulate a lymphoid response are more common (e.g., cell-mediated immunity is reduced, resulting in an increased incidence of tumors and coccidiosis). (e) At an “optimum stress” level, incidence of essentially all diseases is reduced; “optimum stress” may vary with genetic stock, prior experience of the animals and the environment. (f) Effects of stress may be alleviated by chemicals (e.g., ascorbic acid) which inhibit the production of adrenal glucocorticoids; after the administration of an optimal dose of such compounds, the physiological manifestation of stress (e.g., loss of body weight associated with transportation) are reduced. (g) The most important factor affecting the well-being of livestock and poultry is their relationship with their human associates; good husbandry is rewarded by increased productivity.
Broom (2000) identified a variety of welfare indicators which can be used to assess the welfare of animals which are being handled or transported; these include: physiological indicators of pleasure, behavioral indicators of pleasure, extent to which strongly preferred behaviors can be shown, variety of normal behaviors shown or suppressed, extent to which normal physiological processes and anatomical development are possible, extent of behavioral aversion shown, physiological attempts to cope, immunosuppression, disease prevalence, behavioral attempts to cope, behavioral pathology, brain changes (e.g., those indicating self narcotization, body damage prevalence, reduced ability to grow or breed, and reduced life expectancy. Some of these measures are of short-term effects, while others are more relevant to prolonged problems. Where animals are transported to slaughter, it is mainly the measures of short-term effects, such as behavioral aversion or increased heart-rate, which are used, but some animals are kept for a long period after transport and measures such as increased disease incidence or suppression of normal development give information about the effects of the journey on welfare (Broom, 2000).
The most obvious indicators that an animal is having difficulty coping with handling and transport are changes in behavior, which show that some aspect of the situation is aversive (Broom, 2000). Such behavioral changes can be quantified using comparisons of responses (stopping when they encounter shadows, bright areas, dark areas, etc.) as described by Grandin (1980, 1982, 1989, 1997, 1998). The procedures of loading and unloading animals into and out of transport vehicles can have very severe effects on the animals and these effects—which vary considerably by species—are revealed in part by their responses to loading procedures (Broom, 2000). Any animal which is injured or frightened by people during loading can show extreme responses; however, in most efficient loading procedures, sheep are not greatly affected, cattle are sometimes affected, pigs are always affected, and poultry which are handled by humans are always severely affected (Broom, 2000). Broom (2000) reports that once journeys start: (a) Some species of farm animals explore the compartment in which they are placed and try to find a suitable place to sit or lie down. (b) Poultry often lie where they are placed, while pigs normally try to lie down. (c) Sheep and cattle try to lie down if the situation is not disturbing but stand if it is. (d) After a period of acclimatization of sheep and cattle to the vehicle environment, during which time they may stand for 2 to 6 hr looking around at intervals, most of the animals will lie down if the opportunity arises. (e) Unfortunately for the animals, many journeys involve so many lateral movements or sudden brakings or accelerations that the animals cannot lie down. (f) The number of animals which remain standing during transport is a relevant measure of the roughness of the journey. (g) An important behavioral measure of welfare when animals are transported is the amount of fighting which they show; the recording of such behavior should include the occurrence of threats as well as the contact behaviors which might cause injury.
Physiological measures of responses of animals to adverse conditions such as those which they may encounter during handling and transport were described by Broom (2000) and include: (a) plasma cortisol levels, (b) heart rate, (c) breathing rate, (d) extent of muscle tremor, (e) foaming at the mouth, (f) changes in adrenaline and noradrenaline (i.e., epinephrine and norepinephrine), (g) plasma or saliva glucocorticoid levels, (h) saliva cortisol levels, (i) increases/decreases in body temperature, (j) physical signs of nausea or motion sickness, (k) plasma vasopressin levels, (l) plasma ß-endorphin levels, (m) plasma ACTH levels, (n) plasma creatine kinase levels, (o) plasma lactate dehydrogenase levels, (p) osmolality of the blood, (q) plasma ß-hydroxybutyrate levels, (r) behavior when allowed to eat or drink, (s) white blood cell counts, (t) red blood cell counts, (u) activity and efficiency of lymphocytes, (v) immunosuppression, and (w) measures of T-cell activity (e.g., in vitro mitogen-stimulated cell proliferation). In swine, cortisol levels have been unrewarding as a measure of stress in transported and lairaged pigs (Brown et al., 1999; Perez et al., 2002). Other studies using cortisol levels have shown variable relationships to induced physical stress; perhaps this variability can be attributed to differences among individual animals, or groups of animals, in amounts of psychological stress exhibited (Grandin, 1997). Broom (1995) emphasized that whenever physiological measurements are to be used to estimate stress or interpret welfare concerns, it is important to ascertain the basal level for that measure and how it fluctuates over time; decisions must be made for each measure concerning whether the information required is the difference from baseline or the absolute value.
Knowles and Warriss (2000) identified the following physiological indicators of stress during transport: (a) Stressors measured in blood for food deprivation—increased free fatty acids, ß-hydroxybutyrate and urea as well as decreased glucose. (b) Stressors due to dehydration—increased osmolality, total protein, albumin and packed-cell volume. (c) Stressors due to physical exertion—increased creatine kinase and lactate. (d) Stressors due to fear/arousal—increased cortisol and packed-cell volume. (e) Stressors due to motion sickness—increased vasopressin. (f) Other measures of fear/arousal and physical exertion—increased heart rate and respiration rate. (g) Other measures of hypothermia/hyperthermia—decreased or increased body temperature and skin temperature.
Measurements of injuries, bruises, mortality, morbidity and carcass quality can be used as indicators of welfare during handling and transport (Broom, 2000). Mortality records give information about welfare during the journey while bruises, scratches, blemishes, broken bones and incidences of PSE/DFD pork and dark-cutting beef or lamb provide information about the welfare of the animals during handling, transport and lairage (Broom, 2000). Warriss and Brown (1994) reported that 0.072% of 2.9 million pigs in 1991 and 1992 died in transit (0.061%) or in lairage (0.011%); more pigs died in transit in months with hotter weather but average time in lairage could not be related to death percentages.
Grandin (2001c) emphasized the importance of having physically fit cattle and pigs, relative to transportation issues, stating that: (a) It is impossible to assure good animal welfare during transport if the animal is unfit. (b) Severely lame or weak, emaciated animals (e.g., cull dairy cows) are not fit for transport. (c) Modern hydrid pigs—selected for rapid growth, high leanness and extreme muscularity—are often prone to stress that causes the pig to become nonambulatory, to die during transport and/or preslaughter handling. (d) Animal fitness for transport can be improved by marketing cull breeding stock when they are still fit and by using genetic selection for structural and physiological soundness.
CARC (2004) has an excellent ‘Recommended Code Of Practice For The Care And Handling Of Farm Animals: Transportation” document which discusses: (a) Animal Behaviour. (b) Duration of Transport. (c) General Considerations (Responsibilities; Risk Factors; Pre-transport Feed and Water Restriction). (d) Loading and Unloading. (e) Care and Protection During Transit. (f) Animals at Risk. (g) Post Transport Antemortem (Preslaughter) Care. (h) Species Specific and Class Specific Consideration. (i) Research Needs. (j) Appendices. The CARC (2004) document includes specific “Best Practices” for calves, cattle, farm deer, horses, pigs, poultry, sheep and diversified livestock, that are to be transported by land.
Mayes et al. (1988) reported that: (a) Slaughter hogs held off feed and water for 24, 48 and 72 hr lost 3.08, 5.72 and 7.35 kg of liveweight, respectively. (b) Transporting the hogs 700 km and then holding them for the remainder of the 24, 48 and 72 hr fasting period increased the liveweight loss to 4.35, 6.80 and 9.21 kg, respectively. (c) Losses in carcass weight ranged from 26.5 to 34.9% of the liveweight losses in the fasted hogs and 41.7 to 50.3 kg of the liveweight losses for the hogs that were transported and fasted.
According to Cannon et al. (1995), there are scientific studies which document that: (a) Mortality rates for pigs during transport are higher when the animals are fed the same day. (b) Pigs transported under cold conditions produced muscle with slightly lower pHu than did pigs transported at more moderate temperatures. (c) Mortality rates are the lowest for a 10 to 25 min transport and highest for a 45 to 80 min transport. In the US, 80% of all hogs are shipped more than 80.5 km prior to slaughter (Cannon et al., 1995). Death losses in pigs, in the US, Canada and Europe, were reported to be 0.1 to 0.4% (Lambooij, 2000) depending on length of haul and weather conditions during transport. In the US National Pork Benchmarking Study, Scanga et al. (2003) reported transport distances for market hogs as follows: (a) 51.8%, less than 161 km, (b) 32.6%, 162 to 322 km, and (c) 15.6% more than 323 km. Lairage time of the average US market hog (Scanga et al., 2003) is as follows: (a) 1.9%, less than 1 hr, (b) 38.4%, 1 to 3 hr, (c) 43.0%, 3 to 5 hr, (d) 7.0%, 5 to 8 hr, and (e) 9.7%, more than 8 hr. Moss (1980) reported that 3 to 5 hr is the ideal holding time and that 1 hr or less is the least desirable holding time for market hogs. Most US market hogs appear (Scanga et al., 2003) to be arriving at the packing plant on the morning of slaughter rather than on the evening before, but almost 10% (9.7%) are in lairage more than 8 hr because they come to the plant late in the day and are kept overnight to ensure that there are “starter” animals for harvest the following day.
Grandin (1990) reported that during loading, transport and unloading, injuries and bruising occur by forceful contacts in passageways, compartments and containers, and because of fighting among animals. Warriss et al. (1998) reported “some” skin-blemish damage in 63% of slaughter pigs (10% had “moderate” damage) in an EU study and concluded that fighting between mixed groups of unfamiliar animals was the probable cause. Ekkel et al. (1997) reported that mixing pigs at an age of 9 wk leads to vigorous fighting for some days to establish a new social rank; but, this social rank is not very stable because chronologically increased levels of mutual aggression occurred many weeks after mixing, when real fighting had subsided. Of market hogs or carcasses with condemnation issues in the US National Pork Benchmarking Study (Scanga et al., 2003), 6.5%, 5.1% and 3.7% were due to bruising, skin problems or broken bones, respectively; some or all of those three percentages can be attributed to problems in loading, transport, unloading and lairage.
Loading, transport, unloading and lairage of slaughter hogs can generate problems with the color, firmness and/or structure of muscles in carcasses and cuts. In the US National Pork Benchmarking Study (Scanga et al., 2003), percentages with pale/soft/exudative (PSE), normal (NOR) or dark/firm/dry (DFD) muscle color, firmness and structure were 15.5%, 82.6% and 1.9%, respectively. Changes from the 1996 US National Pork Quality Study (Cannon et al., 1996) to the 2003 US National Pork Benchmarking Quality Study (Scanga et al., 2003) were as follows: (a) PSE, up to 15.5% from 10.2%, (b) NOR, down to 82.6% from 86.0%, and DFD, down to 1.9% from 3.8%. The increase in PSE incidence from 10.2% to 15.5%, between 1996 and 2003, suggested (Scanga et al., 2003) that as the composition of the market hog became leaner, management of the leaner animals must be altered to ensure normal pork muscle characteristics. Comments from the packer and purveyor survey respondents in the US National Pork Benchmarking Study (Scanga et al., 2003) indicated that weather or season was the largest influence upon carcasses or wholesale cuts exhibiting PSE. Bidner (2003) concluded that PSE created losses of $0.90 per carcass for every carcass generated annually because of purge problems with fresh pork and decreased protein functionality with processed pork products. Bidner (2003) summarized the effect of environmental conditions on pork quality determining that there is an increased incidence of PSE and decreased fresh pork quality in warmer environmental conditions. Grandin (2001c) reported that the feeding of the repartitioning agent, ractopamine, to pigs increases handling problems and potential welfare problems, citing research demonstrating that feeding this compound affects the behavior and physiology of finishing pigs and makes them more difficult to handle and more susceptible to handling and transport stress.
Stress before slaughter also affects the microbiological contamination in the live animal by influencing the meat quality, which may result in a more contaminated carcass; in PSE and DFD carcasses, microorganisms can grow better and/or to a great extent (Lambooij, 2000). Eikelenboom et al. (1990) and Warriss (1993) recommend that pigs be properly prepared before slaughter which means that feed should be withheld for 16 to 24 hr which should result in less PSE meat and less contamination of the carcass. Salmonella spp. shedding has been documented in swine during transportation and lairage (Berends et al., 1996; Isaacson et al., 1999; McKean et al., 2001; Hurd et al., 2002). However, it may be the environment rather than the stress of transportation/lairage that is responsible for ultimate (at the packing plant) pathogen contamination (Hurd et al., 2001). Lambooij (2000) believes that, after great physical and psychological labor in clinically healthy animals carrying Salmonella spp. and other pathogenic microorganisms, the excretion pattern from the intestinal tract may be changed from intermittent to constant shedding; this disturbance may also lower the immunological response and facilitate the spreading of intestinal bacteria. Marg et al. (2001) reported that, in comparison to untransported pigs, an increased Salmonella Typhimurium DT-104 shedding rate was observed when pigs were transported; shedding of the organism was observed in 92% of the transported, and 58% of the untransported, pigs. In addition to the increased shedding, transported animals had increased diarrhea and developed a disturbed general demeanor.
Lambooij (2000) cites research findings by Slavkov et al. (1974), Morgan et al. (1987), Huis in’t Veld et al. (1994), Mulder (1995) and Rajkowski et al. (1998) which reveal that: (a) Slavkov et al. (1974) reported that from pigs to be delivered to the slaughterhouse no Salmonella were isolated, but after delivering pigs to the abattoir 0.1% of the samples were positive, while after slaughter this percentage had increased to 0.7%. The latter researchers concluded that stress factors were responsible for the increase in the carrier percentage and that when pigs stayed in lairage for a longer time, in larger pens and in worse hygienic conditions, cross-contamination also increased. (b) Morgan et al. (1987) concluded that carcass contamination was caused by Salmonella of intestinal origin, as demonstrated by the Salmonella recovery rate as well as the Salmonella sereotypes from caecal contents and the carcass surface. (c) Huis in’t Veld et al. (1994) reported that because carcass contamination was determined by intestinal Salmonella entering the slaughterhouse with the pigs, a very important strategy may be reduction of contamination, by improved preslaughter handling to avoid any form of multiplication of Salmonella in the live animals. (d) Mulder (1995) recommended to pay more attention to procedures before transport, while loading, during transport and in lairage to prevent spreading of microorganisms by stressed carrier animals because preslaughter conditions affect the contamination rate of the product after slaughter. (e) Rajkowski et al. (1998) found that cleaning and sanitizing trucks reduced Salmonella from 41.5% of the samples collected from truck floors to 2.8%; however, there was no significant difference in the number of trailers that were positive for Salmonella or Escherichia coli attributed to the distance traveled or the season of the year. Hurd et al. (2001) found that when pigs were experimentally lairaged for 18 hr in clean facilities prior to transporting them to the packing plant, the isolation rate for Salmonella spp. decreased.
Lambooij (2000) describes correct procedures at loading and unloading as consisting of these details: (a) Drivers should load and unload animals quietly and not use electric goads. (b) Passageways should be of sufficient width and solid; the slope of the ramp should not exceed 15 to 20?. (c) Groups of animals must be kept stable and limited to avoid fighting and stress when put with unfamiliar animals. (d) The loading density should be correct, while the microclimate should be adapted to the species and ambient weather conditions. (e) Food and water should be available at appropriate times. (f) The vehicle should be driven carefully so that there is no sudden acceleration, braking or sideways movement which causes animals in containers or compartments to be thrown around or unduly disturbed. Grandin (2002b), discussing welfare of pigs during transport, described the following as “Incentives To Reduce Losses”: (a) Handling and stunning greatly improved at packing plants when procedures were monitored and measured. (b) At one plant, death losses were greatly reduced when truck drivers received rewards for low mortality rates. (c) Bruises were greatly reduced when people were held financially accountable for them.
The stress of handling, transport and fasting lowers blood glucose level so that liver glycogen is used in the first 18 hr of transport and fat is broken down 9 hr after feed withdrawal (Warriss and Brown, 1983). As a result, the EC Working Group (1992) recommends that pigs be given water every 8 hr and the period of transport should be limited to 24 hr. Cannon et al. (1995) cited research findings suggesting that: (a) Fasting pigs prior to transport decreases the mortality rate from production facility to the packing plant. (b) Short periods of fasting prior to transport of pigs results in improved meat color, firmness and water-holding capacity. (c) Fasting pigs after transport (before slaughter) can increase pHu, meat color intensity and water-holding capacity of pork. (d) Disadvantages of fasting prior to slaughter include decreased carcass yield and increased incidence of DFD muscle in pork.
Loading density recommendations of the EC Working Group (1992) are, in m2/animal, 0.15, 0.35, 0.42 and 0.51 for piglets, feeder pigs, slaughter pigs and heavy pigs, respectively. Warriss (1998) reported that: (a) Current UK legislation and EU Directive 95/29/EC specify that, in general, pigs must have sufficient space to lie down during transit. (b) For sternal recumbency, 250 kg/m2 is the minimum space required for slaughter pigs of 90 to 100 kg liveweight. (c) In the UK, more than half of all slaughter pigs are transported at densities greater than that prescribed (235 kg/m2) in the EU Directive. (d) At stocking densities above 250 kg/m2 there may not be enough room available for all the pigs to lie down leading to continual disturbance of recumbent animals by those seeking a place to rest. (e) A stocking density of 322 kg/m2 leads to clear evidence of physical distress. (f) During long journeys (25 hr or more), meat quality is reduced by high stocking densities, implying muscle glycogen depletion and possibly fatigue. (g) Higher stocking densities are associated with higher mortality. Whiting and Brandt (2002) recommended a maximal loading pressure under ideal conditions for swine loaded in groups can be described as a hoerl model y=(37.53) (0.9969) w (W0.5008), where y=loading pressure in kg body weight/m2 and W=average animal body weight in kilograms. The Meat and Livestock Commission of the UK recommends a space allowance of 0.4 to 0.5 m2 for pigs being transported to slaughter (Guise and Warriss, 1989). There may need to be a differentiation between the space requirements for short and long trips. Guise et all (1998) found that pigs remain standing for the first 3 hours of a trip. For trips under 3 hours there was little evidence of adverse effects when pigs were loaded at 281 kg m2, which is 0.35 m2 per 100 kg pig.
The ARMCANZ (1997a) Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals report “Land Transport of Pigs” says pigs can be transported more effectively and with less stress if: (a) Care is given to the selection and preparation of pigs prior to transportation. (b) Care is taken in the loading of pigs using facilities well designed for pigs. (c) Well designed road and rail transport facilities are used. (d) The trip is scheduled to minimize delays in travel or at the point of disembarkation of the pigs. Under “Pre-Transport Preparation Of Pigs,” ARMCANZ (1997a) specifies that: (a) Loading density should be reduced by at least 10% if the ambient temperature rises above 25?C. (b) Adult pigs must be provided not less than 5 liters per head per day of cool drinking water and up to double this amount in hot weather. (c) If pigs remain in yards for more than 24 hr before loading or if they are to travel for 24 hr or more, appropriate feed should be available with access to feed removed 4 hr prior to transport. (d) In sunny or hot weather (30?C or more) shade must be provided; in cold weather, pigs should be protected from wind and rain by non-absorbent screens.
Under “Loading,” ARMCANZ (1997a) specifies that: (a) Patience is essential; proper design of yards and loading ramps will facilitate loading with minimum distress and bruising. (b) Pigs should only be loaded onto vehicles that have been thoroughly cleaned before loading. (c) Facilities must be free from protruding nails, bolts, sharp corners and anything else that could contribute to the injury or discomfort of pigs. (d) Loading ramps should not have sharp turns, should not have a slope greater than 20? and should be 900 to 1,000 mm wide. (e) Alleyways, receiving ramps, loading ramps and vehicle-entrances should be properly illuminated. (f) Pigs of different categories (e.g., sows, piglets, adult boars unfamiliar groups of pigs, etc.) should be penned separately when transported. (g) A canvas slapper or a pig board are useful for moving pigs and electric goads should be used sparingly and never on the pig’s genital, anal or facial areas. Smith et al. (1998) conducted a survey of pork producers and reported that the handling/ transportation factors they considered most important in reducing stress and preventing death loss were experience of loaders/handlers, experience of drivers, quality loading ramps, nonslip floors and proper animal facilities.
Under “Loading Density During Transport,” ARMCANZ (1997a) specifies space allowances (m2/head) on a graduated scale that increases from 0.22 for 50 kg, to 0.42 for 125 kg, to 0.61 for 200 kg liveweight pigs and says pigs need about 10% more floor area in a truck when the ambient temperature in the stock crate exceeds 25?C. Under “Travel,” ARMCANZ (1997a) specifies that: (a) Drivers should drive trucks smoothly to prevent bruising and the risk of injury. (b) All animals must be fed at least once in each 24 hr period, and preferably twice, and water must be provided every 24 hr, preferably every 12 hr. (c) Regular inspection of pigs should be carried out first, within 30 minutes of commencing a journey, and after that, every 3 hr.
Under “Rest Periods,” ARMCANZ (1997a) specifies: (a) A journey of up to 48 hr for breeding stock is permissible if the stocking rate allows all animals to lie down comfortably and if there is provision to water the stock on the vehicle. (b) Where a journey will take more than 24 hr, pigs should be rested for 12 to 24 hr after 24 hr travel, sufficient room to lie down and sufficient feed and water for the duration of the journey should be provided. (c) Young piglets should be provided with special food as required, as well as water, at least every 12 hr. Under “Unloading,” ARMCANZ (1997a) specifies: (a) Pigs should be unloaded as soon as possible after arrival at the destination. (b) All pigs must be given access to water when unloaded, including those consigned directly for slaughter. (c) Pigs to be held in yards for 24 hr or longer must be provided with suitable feed.
Under “Minimizing Stress,” ARMCANZ (1997a) specifies: (a) Pigs should be handled quietly and patiently. (b) Stockhandlers should be properly instructed and knowledgeable about animal welfare and be skilled in handling pigs under varying climatic conditions. (c) To help reduce Porcine Stress Syndrome and to improve meat quality, pigs should be rested in lairage at the abattoir prior to slaughter and given access to cool water. The minimum period of 2 to 4 hr rest should be provided after short journeys (i.e., of less than 4 hr). A more extended lairage may be required after longer journeys or during periods of hot weather. Pigs to be held in the yards for 24 hr or longer must be provided with suitable feed. (d) Pigs showing signs of stress must be allowed to rest or they may die. Grandin (1994) recommended a 2 to 4 hr resting period after arrival, for hogs prior to slaughter, to help reduce the incidence of PSE meat. Honkavaara (1989) evaluated environmental conditions for holding pigs prior to slaughter and reported that: (a) The optimal lairage temperature, humidity and holding period were 15 to 18?C, 59 to 65% RH and 3.5 hr, respectively. (b) Use of the optimum holding-facility conditions for test pigs resulted in low muscle lactate, higher muscle pHu and a lower incidence of PSE pork.
Swanson and Morrow-Tesch (2001) reviewed cattle transport literature and concluded that: (a) Factors involved with “transport stress” include pretransport management, noise, vibration, novelty, social regrouping, crowding, climatic factors (temperature, humidity and gases), restraint, loading and unloading, time of transit and feed and water deprivation. (b) Young calves are especially vulnerable to “transport stress” with problems of morbidity (e.g., from diarrhea, pneumonia and “shipping fever”) and mortality. (c) Agonistic behavior seems to be decreased by crowding and motion of the truck. (d) Loading, loss of balance and falling are distressful to cattle. (e) Various remedial strategies (preconditioning, administration of vitamins, vaccines, feeding high-energy diets, electrolyte therapy) have been attempted to decrease “transport stress” with little success. (f) Newer methods to reverse the negative physiological responses and to assess behavior during transport are needed.
Regulations governing the transport of livestock differ among countries. According to Tarrant and Grandin (2000), in the European Union: (a) Journey times shall not exceed 8 hr. (b) However, this may be extended, if the transporting vehicle meets additional requirements, to 14 hr of travel, after which a rest period of at least 1 hr with water is specified for adult animals. (c) They may then be transported for a further 14 hr. (d) Two 9-hr periods with 1 hr rest for watering is the maximum permitted for unweaned calves. According to Friend et al. (1981), in the USA: (a) “28-hr Law”—that no animals could be confined in a car, boat or vessel longer than 28 consecutive hours without unloading them, in a humane manner, into properly equipped pens for rest, water and feeding for a period of at least five consecutive hours—was enacted in 1883, and updated in 1906, to regulate interstate shipment of livestock by railroad and ship. (b) Motor transport was excluded because it was not in general use in 1906. (c) The “28-hr law” has never been amended to include animals moved interstate in trucks, though it remains in effect for railroad and ship transport. According to Tarrant and Grandin (2000), in Canada, a rest stop is required after 48 hr of travel.
Eicher (2001) reviewed transport of dairy cattle and reported that: (a) During transport, adult cattle stand more, but lie more during the recovery period. (b) Footing is affected by driver, driving conditions and stocking density but not by flooring. (c) Upper critical temperature for adult cattle is 30?C but neonatal calves are most affected by low temperatures. (d) Young calves exhibit less physiological stress with transport, but succumb to postsecondary mortality, which is correlated with age at transport. (e) The duration of the journey has a greater impact than the distance and after long transport, most animals drink and then lie down. (f) Therapies during and following transport show that water or electrolytes are important.
Friend et al. (1981) equipped a railcar with feeders/waterers and shipped feeder calves in it for 1226 km, comparing results with those for feeder cattle shipped by truck (times in transit were 57 vs. 11 hr, respectively). Calves shipped by rail suffered less weight loss in transit but the difference was only temporary (truck calves fully compensated in about 30 d) and no other advantages favored either type of transport. Ashby et al. (1981) transported feeder cattle in a railcar modified to allow intransit feeding and watering; those in the modified railcar lost 4% less liveweight than did those shipped the equivalent distance in trucks. Tarrant and Grandin (2000) believe that, in practice, unless resting facilities are adequate and the animals are unloaded with care, rest stops may be counter-productive and serve only to prolong the overall journey time. Knowles et al. (1997) concluded that the minor benefits of mid-transport feeding (1 L of glucose/electrolyte at 8 hr intervals) during a 24-hr journey for calves less than 1 m of age would not justify the disruption that would be caused by unloading and feeding.
Atkinson (1992) investigated effects of transport and lairage on calves and concluded that: (a) Transport may cause dehydration, and lairage may help in recovery. (b) Plasma potassium concentration decreased during transport, but the effect was inversely related to the distance traveled, and the concentration increased during lairage—which is consistent with recovery from initially high cortisol levels at loading. (c) Resting behavior indicated that transported calves spent more time resting and sleeping than has been reported for non-transported calves and more still by small transported calves, suggesting that transport is exhausting, that lairage helps recovery, and that small calves are more adversely affected.
Loerch and Fluharty (1999) reported that: (a) The ruminal microbial population is able to effectively digest available substrate immediately following a calf’s weaning, trucking and 24 hr of feed and water deprivation. (b) A period of feed and water deprivation up to 72 hr, coupled with 8 hr of trucking, does not reduce the concentration or total number of either the viable cellulolytic or total bacteria present in the rumen, but total ruminal protozoa decreased. (c) The latter data suggest that the difference in performance of newly received feedlot cattle that have been deprived of feed and water for longer times is compensated for in the first 2 wk after arrival if nutrient density is increased to offset reduced dry matter intake.
Crookshank et al. (1979) reported that transporting and handling calves the first 4 to 7 d after weaning could be a critical factor in the development of the “shipping fever complex”; during this period, the calves appear to be more susceptible to invasion by the causative agent. Bremner et al. (1992) reported that improvements in welfare of bobby calves and probably reduced bruising would result if ramp slopes were kept at less than about 12? so that most animals could remain upright. Calves less than 4 wk of age were given either a glucose/electrolyte solution, water or nothing in a 1-hr feeding stop during a 19-hr road journey by Knowles et al. (1999a). Feeding electrolytes reduced the extent of dehydration, but there was some indication that giving water was detrimental, calves’ liveweight and plasma creatine kinase activity took 7 d to stabilize but most of the variables that changed during the journey had recovered in line with the values in the control animals within 24 hr of the end of the journey (Knowles et al., 1999a).
Mackenzie et al. (1997) demonstrated that weaning and transportation affect humoral immune responses to a specific antigen challenge in suckled calves but: (a) It was not possible to predict the interaction between the endocrine and nutritional mechanisms by which these two husbandry challenges—weaning and transportation—affect the immune response in these calves. (b) Likewise, recommendations on policy for transportation are difficult to make because the increases seen in antibody responses are probably mirrored by reductions in T lymphocyte function as has been reported for other stress-induced changes in calves. Knowles et al. (1997) reported that calves (<1 m of age) did not show the same marked responses in heart rate, plasma cortisol and plasma glucose that are observed in older cattle. They also appeared to be unable to regulate their body temperature closely when they were transported during the winter; the lack of response of these calves to transport was probably not because they were unaffected but because they were physiologically unadapted to coping with transport (Knowles et al., 1997).
Todd et al. (2000) studied effects of food withdrawal and transport on 5- to 10-d-old calves and concluded that: (a) Transport and food withdrawal had no obvious effects on calf hydration. (b) Food withdrawal for up to 30 h and transport for up to 12 h had no detrimental effects on the metabolism of healthy and clinically normal calves. (c) With correct feeding regimes and transport protocols, welfare compromise in young, healthy calves being transported for up to 12 h can be minimized when they are slaughtered within 30 h of the start of transport. Van der Walt et al. (1993) evaluated the effect of fasting on physiological stress indicators (plasma glucose, lactate, free fatty acids, total lipids, total protein, cortisol, catecholamines, osmolality and hematocrit) and concluded that food deprivation for 72 h in feedlot cattle cannot be regarded as a major stressor. Warriss et al. (1995) transported cattle (12 to 18 m of age) for up to 15 hr by road and reported that based on the physiological measurements made (cortisol, creatine phosphokinase, urea, albumin, osmolality, free fatty acids, beta-hydroxybutyrate and total protein) and the subjective observations of behavior, a 15 hr transport period under good conditions is not unacceptable from the viewpoint of animal welfare.
Knowles et al. (1999b) studied transportation of cattle for 14, 21, 26 and 31 hr including a stop for a rest and drink on the lorry after 14 hr, with transported and control cattle, and concluded that: (a) Physiological measurements indicated that a journey lasting 31 hr was not excessively physically demanding, but many of the animals chose to lie down after about 24 hr. Animals that lay down had higher plasma cortisol levels that those that remained standing. (b) Many animals chose not to drink during the rest stop. (c) Physiological measurements made after the journeys indicated that 24 hr in lairage, with hay and water freely available, allowed the animals to recover substantially, although not completely, irrespective of journey time. Nanni Costa et al. (2003) transported slaughter bulls for 1 or 3 hr and reported that neither incidence of carcass bruising nor beef quality were affected by the journey time or by the environmental conditions. Gallo et al. (2003) transported slaughter steers for 3 or 16 hr and held them in lairage for 3, 6, 12 or 24 hr and reported that: (a) The longer journey was associated with a significantly larger liveweight loss. (b) Lairage after 16 hr of transport increased muscle pHu, decreased muscle luminosity and increased the proportion of “dark-cutter” carcasses.
Tarrant and Grandin (2000) reported on results of a series of experiments that concluded that: (a) Young adult cattle showed increased disturbance of stress in the following order of treatment: repenning < stationary confinement < confinement in a moving truck. (b) This ranking was based on an increasing plasma cortisol concentration, suppression of social interactions and increasing urination, and applied equally to non-mixed and regrouped animals. (c) The data identified the more stressful operations in road transport; however, there was no evidence that any of the transport treatments were harmful or caused major distress to the cattle. Earlier, Tennessen et al. (1984), who studied short-haul road transport of cattle, and Eldridge et al. (1988), who measured heart rates of cattle during road transport at different loading densities, had also concluded that, once cattle adapted to the journey, road transport was not a major physical or psychological stressor. Tarrant et al. (1992) reported that stocking densities above about 550 kg/m2 are unacceptable for slaughter steers in the liveweight range of 537 to 900 kg on long (1,000 km) journeys; at medium and low density, the physiological data suggest that any increase in journey time or deterioration in transport conditions would be detrimental to welfare.
Under “Cattle Behavior In Moving Vehicles,” Tarrant and Grandin (2000) conclude that: (a) Restlessness can result in changes in position triggered by social interactions, such as chin-resting and mounting, and also, when the truck was moving, by driving events, particularly cornering. (b) Standing orientation, on long journeys, most commonly is perpendicular to direction of travel and cattle tend not to lie down in trucks when they are moving. (c) Maintenance of balance depends most on driving events (80% of losses of balance are due to braking, gear changing and cornering) slipperiness of the floor surfaces (withholding water to animals for 6 hr prior to loading helps prevent this), quality of the road, vehicle design (to provide side support to the animals) and loading densities. (d) Falls (i.e., cattle going down under foot) is the major risk in cattle transport; this risk is greatly increased at high stocking density and by driving events. (e) Stocking density on trucks can increase carcass bruising (if too high), reduce dressed carcass weight (if too high), reduce welfare (if too high), reduce carcass quality (if too high) and increase serious injury or death during travel (if too high). Welfare of animals can be poor if stocking density is too low. Grandin (2001c) reported that tired truck-loading crews that become impatient, and overloading of trucks may increase bruises and injuries whereas careful driving and avoiding sudden stops and starts will reduce injuries due to animals falling down.
Marahrens et al. (2003) studied long distance road transport of cattle and reported that: (a) All categories of cattle lost weight and showed catabolic energy metabolism during transport but only in bulls and heifers (not steers) did this lead to ketotic metabolism during second parts of transport and lairage time. (b) Cattle have to be prepared carefully (i.e., energy and fluid balance) before transport, be fed in sufficient time intervals (breaks) and lengths to maintain fundamental behavioral and physiological needs of the animals during transport, and have lairage conditions (facilities, time and feed) to ensure the possibility for a real resting and recovery of the animals after transport. Maria et al. (2004) developed a scoring system for evaluating stress in cattle and reported that loading was more stressful than unloading, and that higher scores implied significantly higher levels of stress.
Tarrant and Grandin (2000) state that: (a) The yield of the carcass and offal provide evidence about the animal’s condition before slaughter. (b) The greatest cause for concern about road transport is the injury or bruising that may occur on long (or possibly short) journeys, together with the respiratory infections and morbidity associated with “shipping fever” after long journeys. Smith and Grandin (1998) said proper handling is the responsibility of people in several sectors of the beef industry; if too many beef carcasses are bruised or are “dark cutters,” those responsible could be producers, auction market employees, truckers or packers. Joint responsibility for proper handling is the key to providing high-quality products from cattle.
In the US National Beef Quality Audit—1991, incidence of carcass bruises was 23.4% on the loin (the highest among primal-cut areas) and essentially zero on the round while the occurrence of “dark-cutting” beef in carcasses was 5% (Lorenzen et al., 1993). Results of the US National Beef Quality Audit—1995 (Boleman et al., 1998) revealed that incidence of carcass bruises was 41.1% on the loin (the highest among primal-cut areas) and 7.2% on the round while the occurrence of “dark-cutting” beef in carcasses was 2.7%. In the US National Beef Quality Audit—2000, incidence of carcass bruises was 28.2% on the chuck (the highest among primal-cut areas) and 14.9% on the round while the occurrence of “dark-cutting” beef in carcasses was 2.3% (McKenna et al., 2002). Smith et al. (1995) in the Executive Summary of the National Beef Quality Audit—1995 said, because back bruises tend to occur while cattle are entering into or departing from trucks, truckers and producers should take care when loading and unloading their animals; low-hanging bars, floors, decks and endgates on trucks and similar low-hanging elements on loading docks should be moved up or removed. Scanga et al. (1998) identified seasonal climatic trends (hot weather and large temperature swings) as important factors contributing to “dark-cutting” beef carcasses and suggested that good handling practices, well-designed handling facilities and proper shipping practices must also be used to minimize occurrence of this anomaly.
Smith (1997) described results of the Strategic Alliance Field Study—1993 (conducted by Colorado State University, Texas A&M University and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association) saying that the genius of that study was not in the recovery of $63.79 per steer/heifer by remedying quality defects but that—just in time—people in the production, transportation and harvesting sectors proved that by working together, nothing is impossible. Quality losses due to problems with management practices were lessened in the Strategic Alliance Field Study—1993 because of decreases in numerous defects including bruises, “dark-cutters” and carcass pathology.
In the US National Non-Fed Beef Quality Audit—1994, frequencies of defects in salvage cattle in packing-plant holding pens were as follows for beef cattle and dairy cattle, respectively: (a) Disabled cattle, not stifled—0.9% and 1.3%. (b) Disabled cattle, stifled—3.4% and 5.8% (Smith et al., 1994b). In the latter study, the frequency of whole cattle/carcass condemnations for beef and dairy, bulls and cows (combined) was 2.6% while major, medium and minor bruises were found on 30.7%, 53.9% and 51.5% of all cows and 7.4%, 19.5% and 25.3%, respectively, of all bulls. Blood-splashed muscle occurred in 1.8% of all cows and 0.0% of all bulls while “dark-cutting” beef was found in 13.7% of all cow carcasses and 40.5% of all bull carcasses (Smith et al., 1994). Roeber et al. (2001b), in the US National Market Cow And Bull Quality Audit—1999, reported a frequency of 1.1% for whole cattle/carcass condemnations of salvage beef and dairy, cows and bulls (combined) while major, medium and minor bruises were found on 21.6%, 41.7% and 77.2% of all cows and 6.9%, 16.7% and 44.4%, respectively, of all bulls. Blood-splashed muscle occurred in 1.0% of all cow carcasses while 2.2% of all cow carcasses had “dark-cutting” beef (Roeber et al., 2001b).
Smith and Grandin (1998) attributed $3.91 of the $12.00 loss for each salvage cow/bull harvested in the US (from the results of the National Non-Fed Beef Quality Audit—1994; Smith et al., 1994b) to errors by producers, and attributed $8.09 to errors by the marketing/transporting sector and the packing sector. Albright (2000) said “Never attempt to transport cows which have become emaciated or too weak to stand; if rehabilitation does not occur within a reasonable time, the animal should be humanely euthanized on the farm.” Grandin (2001b) said the two factors that have probably contributed most to decline in body condition (and subsequent development of “downers”) in the U.S. salvage cow population are indiscriminant use of recombinant bovine somototropin, and genetic selection pressure for increased milk production. Smith et al. (2002) reported that, at the Strategy Workshop for the National Non-Fed Beef Quality Audit—1994, industry participants identified the following actions for improving quality of market cows/bulls: (a) Minimize condemnations by monitoring herd health and selling salvage cattle in a timely manner before they become weak, thinly muscled and/or emaciated. (b) Reduce bruises by correcting deficiencies in facilities, transportation and equipment, as well as by improving handling.
In the National Beef Quality Audit—1995 (Smith et al., 1995) it was stated that bruises can be greatly reduced if producers/truckers/packers will take care in loading and unloading animals. Smith et al. (1998) conducted a survey of beef producers and found that transportation, loading and unloading personnel factors were ranked “moderately” to “highly” important in reducing stress and preventing injury or mortality. Armstrong et al. (1998) studied effects of the Livestock Safety Cushion™ which is padding applied around the rear door and in twelve additional places within the trailer, on incidence of bruises on 4,690 slaughter steers/heifers hauled up to 188 miles to the packing plant. For padded vs. unpadded trucks, respectively, total bruises were 30.1% vs. 39.5%, bruises per load were 11.9% vs. 15.9%, animals with one bruise were 8.0% vs. 10.6%, and animals with two bruises were 2.7% vs. 4.1%, respectively. Use of the Livestock Safety Cushion™: (a) Significantly reduced loin bruises, and (b) Reduced trim losses from bruises by $0.39/animal, which would save $1.05 million per year in Canada (Armstrong et al. (1998). One interesting finding in the Armstrong et al. (1998) study was that “feedlot of origin” was the most important factor determining extent (incidence) of bruising.
Tyler et al. (1982) studied incidences of bruising and dark-cutting beef and concluded that the temperament and susceptibility to bruising of individual animals have more influence on the severity of bruising than does type of cattle—Zebu vs. British—and that British cattle had a higher incidence of dark-cutting beef than did Zebu cattle. Grandin (1979) and Price and Tennessen (1981) both reported that fighting among cattle that are strangers will increase the incidence of dark-cutting beef. When cattle that are strangers are mixed together, they fight to determine a new dominance hierarchy (Smith and Grandin, 1999). They believe that 80% of the things that contribute to dark-cutting beef occur prior to the time the cattle reach the packing plant but that it is the plant factors (e.g., rough handling, excessive lairage—starter cattle, weekend cattle) that are the “straws that break the camel’s back” and cause dark-cutting beef in carcasses (Smith and Grandin, 1999).
Jones and Tong (1987) reported that: (a) The frequency of dark-cutting beef increased as transportation distance from the farm to the slaughter plant changed (from less than 60 miles to more than 180 miles). (b) Steers had a higher incidence of dark-cutting beef than did heifers. (c) Mixed loads of cattle had a significantly higher frequency of dark-cutting beef than unmixed loads. (d) The frequency of dark-cutting beef differed widely among packing plants—from a low of 0.26% to a high of 1.79%. (e) The highest monthly frequencies of dark-cutting beef were in March and April while the lowest frequency was in December.
The transport and handling procedures imposed on beef cattle during the normal course of marketing can be a significant stressor with factors like time off feed, water deprivation, mixing and the resulting behavioral problems, transport movement, unfamiliar noise, and inclement weather are often present and collectively result in live weight and carcass losses as well as degraded meat quality (Schaefer et al., 1997). Schaefer et al. (1997) studied the role of oral electrolyte therapy in attenuating transport and handling stress in cattle and reported improvements in both live and carcass weights (less shrink) of up to several percent in treated animals as well as a reduction in meat quality degradation (reduced “dark-cutting” beef). Wilson (1999) found that providing livestock with electrolyte-restoring liquids (similar to sports drinks for humans) before and during transport can reduce shrinkage in pigs, lambs and calves. While all animals lost weight during transport, electrolyte-fed animals lost less weight than water-fed animals (Wilson, 1999).
Tarrant and Grandin (2000) concluded that: (a) The skill of the driver and the quality of the road appear to be more important in determining transport stress and losses in carcass value than the distance traveled. (b) Economic incentives can greatly reduce bruising; cattle sold by liveweight had twice as many bruises compared with cattle sold on a carcass basis (Grandin, 1981a). (c) The animal behavior most closely associated with muscle glycogen depletion and “dark-cutting” beef is mounting activity; this behavior is stimulated by social regrouping caused by mixing unfamiliar cattle. (d) Other effects of transport on meat quality demonstrated by research include increased toughness and decreased palatability. (e) The most important disease associated with transportation of cattle is “shipping fever” which is attributed to the stress caused by transporting calves or cattle form one geographical region to another. The pathogenesis of bovine respiratory disease involves a sequential cascade of events initiated by stress, which lowers the animal’s resistance to infection; however, Tarrant and Grandin (2000) did not cite results of research that quantified relationships between conditions of cattle transport and incidence of “shipping fever” in calves or cattle.
Grandin (1998, 2001a, 2002a) developed objective measures of stress and welfare that are used by feedlots and packing plants to score the handling of cattle; these objective systems measure the behavior of animals by scoring prod usage, running, slipping, falling or banging into structures, and vocalization. Lapworth (2004a) reported that a survey of deaths among railed cattle from western Queensland, Australia showed that fewer animals died in transit when they were rested for more than 12 hr between mustering and loading at the property yards. He recommended 6 to 12 hr rest before transport and said the length of the rest-before-transport period depends on the time taken to muster and handle the cattle, distance to be traveled and the current weather conditions (Lapworth, 2004a).
Transportation and lairage can result in direct (animal to animal) or indirect (animal to environment to animal) pathogen cross-contamination of cattle by pen-mates or from loading/ unloading chutes, trucks and/or lairage pens especially if they have not been cleaned properly between uses. An increase in the prevalence of pathogens on the hides of cattle caused by the unavoidable physical contact between animals and with environmental surfaces has been demonstrated by Avery et al. (2002), Barham et al. (2002), Reid et al. (2002), Small et al. (2002) and Collis et al. (2004). A study in the UK, of 73 different cattle consignments, implied that the floor of the lairage pens or of the stunning-box was the source of the prevalent clone (75% of isolates) cultured from hides of slaughtered cattle (Avery et al., 2002). Another UK study of lairage environments found that 27.2% of samples from selected sites along the unloading-to-slaughter routes were positive for E. coli O157 (Small et al., 2002); the sites that were most frequently contaminated were the holding-pen floors, entrance gate to the stun-box, and the stun-box floor. Although such studies support the importance of transport and lairage as sources/site of contamination, it is not known whether occurrence or extent of contamination with pathogens is related, quantitatively, to the amount of stress generated by/during transport and/or lairage. Collis et al. (2004) demonstrated that both the livestock market process and the unloading-to-skinning process at abattoirs can facilitate the extensive spread of microbial contamination on hides not just within, but also between, batches of cattle. The stress associated with marketing calves and their introduction to a feedyard environment has been implicated as the cause for the increased prevalence of Salmonella spp. during the early feeding period (Corrier et al., 1990). Shedding of Salmonella spp. in beef cattle is reported to increase in association with stress such as transportation (Barham et al., 2002; Beach et al., 2002).
According to Lapworth (2004b): (a) Cattle should be fasted for 6 to 12 hr prior to transport, even when cattle will be transported short distances, because it reduces the possibility of bruising and other stresses. (b) Cattle straight off feed and water make a mess in the truck which makes the floors slippery and causes cattle to go down in transit significantly increasing bruising. (c) Ramps should be designed so the slope is no more than 20?, the height at the truck end is 1170 to 1200 mm and the length of the apron at the top of the ramp is between 1000 and 3000 mm.
The ARMCANZ (1999) Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals report “Land Transport of Cattle” says cattle can be transported more effectively and with less stress if: (a) Care is taken in the selection of cattle prior to transportation. (b) Care is taken in the loading/unloading of cattle, using facilities well designed for cattle. (c) Well designed road and rail transport vehicles are used. (d) The trip is scheduled to minimize delays in travel or at the point of disembarkation of the cattle. Under “Pre-Transport Preparation of Cattle,” ARMCANZ (1999) specifies: (a) It is desirable to feed, water and rest cattle for at least 12 hr close to the loading facility if mustering has caused considerable physical exertion. (b) Cattle should be offered water and feed if water deprivation is expected to exceed 36 hr but should not be offered large amounts of water and food within 6 hr of loading. (c) Where necessary, use should be made of natural and artificial shelter to protect cattle from extremes of wind, heat or cold. (d) Special requirements are codified for pregnant cows, lactating cows and calves (e.g., calves should be fed within 6 hr of transportation and must not be left without appropriate liquid food for more than 10 hours).
Under “Loading,” ARMCANZ (1999) specifies that: (a) Persons responsible for the transport of cattle have legal responsibility for their care and welfare. (b) Cattle should be loaded onto vehicles with dry floors or floors that have been cleaned before loading. (c) Cattle will tend to follow each other unless they are distracted, and this behavior should be exploited in the design of facilities. (d) Yards should be constructed to avoid sudden changes in levels, steep slopes, dim and uneven lighting, narrow passages and sharp turns. (e) There should be no protrusions or sharp edges on the fences or gateways of the loading and handling facility. (f) Ramps should not be less than 15 m in length and should have a slope no greater than 20?. (g) Artificial lighting is desirable for loading at night. (h) Cattle of different categories (e.g., horned cattle, adult bulls, calves, etc.) should be penned separately when transported). (i) Cattle are difficult to move unless they can see somewhere to go. Flappers, with straps of leather or canvas attached, or metallic rattles, are ideal for encouraging cattle movement; use of electric prods should be restricted.
Under “Transport Design,” ARMCANZ (1999) provides details of construction, design (door sizes, spacing requirements, floor surfaces, etc.) and ventilation of vehicles used to transport cattle. Under “Loading Density During Transport,” ARMCANZ (1999) specifies recommended average loading rates for cattle of different liveweights with floor area (m2/head) on a graduated scale that increases from 0.77 for 250 kg, to 1.13 for 450 kg, to 1.63 for 650 kg liveweight cattle and says 5% fewer cattle should be loaded if they are horned and that if fewer cattle than recommended are transported, firmly fixed portable partitions should be used to prevent injury during an emergency stop.
Because vibration of the transport vehicle is believed to be one of the stressors linked to development of “shipping fever” in calves, both Stevens and Camp (1979) and Singh (1991) have investigated the location on the trailer which provided the most severe shock and vibration inputs to the cattle; both of the latter studies concluded that cattle located over the rear axles of the livestock trailer are subjected to the greatest vibrations and recommended lower inflation of tires and “air ride” rather than “leaf spring” suspension.
Under “Travel,” ARMCANZ (1999) specifies that: (a) It is the responsibility of the livestock transport driver to carefully assess and monitor the condition of the stock, prior to loading and during transport, to ensure the welfare of the cattle is maintained at an acceptable level. (b) The factors which determine acceptable travel times are method and stresses imposed during mustering and handling, time cattle are off feed and off water, weather conditions prior to and during transport, type of road surfaces traversed, frequency of speed changes caused by hilly terrain and populated areas, and the body condition, pregnancy status and fitness of the cattle. (c) Transport should be completed with minimal delays; where delays cannot be avoided, watering, feeding and protection from extremes of weather must be addressed. (d) “Water deprivation time” starts with initiation of “empty out time” (deliberate period of water and/or feed deprivation aimed to minimize fecal and urine spoilage of the transport vehicle and subsequent problems with animals slipping) and includes the period after unloading. “Water deprivation times” should not exceed 8 hr for 8-month-pregnant cows, 24 hr for lactating dairy cows plus calves 1 to 6 months of age and 36 hr for mature stock. (e) The time which cattle can be off feed without detriment to their welfare is generally much greater than the above maximum “water deprivation times.” (f) “Spelling stops” which involve unloading and loading cattle may impose a greater stress than continuing the journey for a limited period. Nevertheless, “spelling stops” should be 12 to 24 hr after each 24 hr of “water deprivation time” for calves 1 to 6 months of age and 12 to 24 hr after each 36 hr of “water deprivation time” for cattle older than 6 months of age. (g) Consignments by road should be inspected within 30 to 60 minutes of commencing a journey and after that, at least every 2 to 3 hr, as well as whenever the driver has a rest stop.
Under “Unloading,” ARMCANZ (1999) specifies: (a) Cattle must be unloaded as soon as possible after arrival at the destination. (b) If possible, cattle unloading should avoid mixing of unfamiliar animals, to avoid fighting. (c) All cattle must be offered water as soon as possible after arrival at the destination. Under “Minimizing Stress,” ARMCANZ (1999) specifies: (a) Cattle may be stressed during transport by effects of mustering, handling, holding, deprivation of water and food, and extremes of weather. (b) Cattle should be mustered and handled in a way that maintains them in a condition suitable for transport. (c) The animals most severely affected by stress are those not accustomed to handling, those in poor condition, heavily pregnant females, and young and old animals; such groups should be handled with due care. (d) The stress of transport will be greatly increased by extremes of weather. (e) Whenever possible, cattle should be transported directly to their destination. Good handling equipment and well-designed transport vehicles provide the tools that make efficient and humane handling and transport easier (Grandin, 2000a,c).
Lapworth (2004a) suggests: (a) The beef producer has the greatest influence on handling and transport strategies that will affect the meat qualities of his cattle by selecting which cattle to ship, how they are sorted (type, sex, horns, size), whether they are offered feed/water while in the yards, setting the rest/fasting period prior to loading, deciding the time they are in the yards from mustering to loading and defining the handling standards that influence actions of his own stockmen and of the transport drivers. (b) The truck driver, after consultation with the beef producer (or his agent) and using his own knowledge and experience, will decide on the loading density and is responsible for the welfare of the animals from loading until delivery. (c) Good communication and cooperation between the beef producer and the transport driver is essential to maximize animal welfare and meat quality.
Under “Pregnant And Lactating Animals,” MAFAWG (2003) specifies: (a) If possible, transport early in pregnancy, plan well ahead and obtain veterinary advice if necessary. (b) Pre-condition animals before a long haul journey by feeding hay for 5 to 7 days. Note: Hay alone may not be sufficient to meet the requirements of a lactating dairy cow. (c) Refuse animals that are likely to give birth during transport. (d) Don’t transport dairy cows in their last month of pregnancy on a long haul journey. (e) Don’t transport pregnant cows on the top deck of a double-decker transport unless they can be unloaded with a ramp with a slope of not more than 20?. (f) Examine pregnant animals and offer water as soon as possible after unloading, on arrival at their destination. (g) Provide rest periods of 12 hr after each 10 hr of travel, which includes loading and unloading when planning a journey. (h) Milk lactating cows without calves at foot immediately prior to transportation and then at regular intervals not exceeding 24 hr. (i) Water cows after milking and before loading and at least every 8 hr. (j) Obtain veterinary advice when planning the transportation of dairy cows in the first four months of lactation (first two months of lactation for a long haul journey). (k) Avoid long haul transport of cull cows. Lay et al. (1996) studied pregnant cattle and reported that repeated transportation caused a decrease in cortisol release and shrinkage indicative of psychological habituation.
Under “Driving,” MAFAWG (2003) directs driving steadily, avoiding rapid acceleration and braking as much as possible, as well as taking corners at an appropriate speed to reduce the centrifugal force. Under “Loading Density,” MAFAWG (2003) states: (a) The aim in determining loading density is to minimize injury and allow any cast animals room to rise, by not packing animals too loosely or too tightly. (b) Guideline space allowances for cattle are expressed in minimum and maximum m2/head by class and liveweight; for example, min/max m2/head for calves of 50 kg are 0.21/0.28 m2; for young cattle of 150 kg are 0.50/0.60 m2, and; for adult cattle of 300 kg are 0.86/0.96 m2, of 500 kg are 1.27/1.59 m2 and of >600 kg are 1.50/none m2.
Lapworth (2004a) says suggested volume loading rates for adult cattle for road transport, in floor area (m2/head) are 0.77, 0.86, 0.98, 1.05, 1.13, 1.23, 1.34, 1.47 and 1.63 m2/head for live cattle weighing 250, 300, 350, 400, 450, 500, 550, 600 and 650 kg, respectively. He further suggests that, in double-deck transport vehicles, the maximum number of head per bottom deck—to reduce stress, bruising and deaths during the journey—is 38, 34, 30, 28, 26, 24, 22, 20 and 18 head of live cattle weighing 250, 300, 350, 400, 450, 500, 550, 600 and 650 kg, respectively (Lapworth, 2004a).
Matthews (2000) also described: (a) Ideal group size is six animals (100 kg weight) with a maximum of eight. (b) Stocking density (ranges—0.4 to 1.2 m2/100 kg); research studies suggest that variations in space allowance have little effect on animal comfort or stress. (c) Bruising is more likely for animals transported distances greater than 200 km, for smaller deer, for less fat deer, and for males transported during breeding season or held overnight in lairage in late winter. (d) There are increases in bruising rates, muscle damage and stress with increasing distance traveled but the magnitude of the effects are small, and there is little effect on levels of dehydration of journey times up to 6 hr. (e) Biochemical signs of dehydration, as measured by increases in plasma sodium levels, become apparent 11 to 20 hr following water withdrawal.
Waas et al. (1997) used heart rate and blood sampling devices to assess effects of several road transport parameters on physiological responses associated with welfare in red deer stags and reported that: (a) Stocking density had a significant influence on heart rates and plasma lactate concentrations. (b) Heart rates of deer transported at a high density (0.38 m2 per 84 kg animal) were 10 to 13% higher than those of deer transported at medium (0.62 m2) or low (0.85 m2) densities. (c) Lactate concentrations of animals transported at a high or medium density were 30 to 40% higher than those of deer transported at a low density. (d) Heart rates of deer transported in the back or middle pens were 7 to 8% higher than those of deer transported at the front, and lactate concentrations were 30 to 40% higher. (e) Because elevated heart rates and lactate concentrations are indicative of physiological or psychological challenges, it may be best to transport deer at densities below the currently recommended limit (0.40 m2/100 kg animal) and to keep deer nearer the front of the crate. (f) Although hematocrit, sodium and cortisol concentrations were not sensitive to variation in stocking density or the animal’s position within the crate, cortisol and sodium concentrations increased significantly with time in transit; heart rates and lactate concentrations decreased significantly during the journey. (g) A two-fold increase in cortisol during the 2-hr trip suggests that the length of journeys should be minimized to avoid welfare problems.
According to Matthews (2000): (a) Deer are more prone to losing their footing in the first few minutes of a journey and on steep, winding sections of highway; thus, careful driving is required during those times. (b) There appears to be a greater physical challenge to deer at the rear of transporters as heart rates and plasma lactate concentrations for animals in the middle and rear pens are higher than for those at the front. (c) Agonistic interactions between deer on trucks are more common between recently mixed animals and those differing greatly in body weight. (d) Animals of different ages or gender should not be mixed. (e) Stags, during the rut or with velvet antlers longer than 60 mm, should not be transported. (f) Behavioral measures of aversion and physiological measures of stress indicate that the process of transportation is a relatively mild stressor (in comparison with physical restraint); thus if “Best Practices’ are followed, animal well-being should not be unduly compromised by transport and associated handling.
Grigor et al. (1997) transported farmed red deer, by road, for 3 hr, after which they were either slaughtered immediately (T0) or held in lairage for 3, 6 or 18 hr (T3, T6 and T18, respectively) and concluded that: (a) Liveweight loss increased with lairage time but hot carcass weight was unaffected. (b) Deer spent much of the initial period in lairage standing stationary in “alert” postures; after 8 to 10 hr, the proportions of time spent in various postures (standing stationary, moving and lying down) were similar to pre-journey values. (c) None of the blood components associated with dehydration (packed cell volume, osmolality, total protein and sodium) changed significantly with lairage time. (d) Compared with T0 deer, plasma creatine kinase activity was significantly decreased in T18 deer. (e) Lairage time had no effect on skin damage, bruising or muscle glycogen content, although liver glycogen content increased with longer lairage time. (f) Although lairage time had a statistically significant effect on muscle pHu (with T6 deer having the lowest values), the differences were small and none of the carcasses had a pHu greater than 6.0.
Lairage and slaughter of deer were discussed by Matthews (2000); he reported that: (a) Typically, the pH values for deer slaughtered at commercial premises are low and within the range considered indicative of good quality meat. (b) Overnight lairage may increase the rate of bruising at specific times of the year (e.g., during winter in males) but appears to have little other adverse physiological effects on deer (Grigor et al., 1997) showed that lairage for up to 18 hr did not lead to dehydration, depletion of muscle glycogen or high muscle pH). (c) There is evidence that lairage allows recovery from transport as the activity of enzymes indicative of muscle damage decline with time in lairage. (d) The frequency of agonistic interactions increases with time in lairage. (e) Design of the race leading to the stunning box is critical for avoiding stress in deer. (f) Electric goads should not be used on deer. (g) In the interests of animal well-being, the shorter the time deer are left in the stunning pen the better (Grigor et al., 1999).
Research on effects of transport of sheep by road includes: (a) Knowles et al. (1993) studied effects of 9 and 14 hr of road transport and subsequent recovery in lairage of hill lambs and reported there were no measurable differences between the responses of the lambs transported for 9 vs. 14 hr and that recovery after transport, in lairage, required 24 hr for dehydration and 96 hr for liveweight. (b) Knowles et al. (1995b) transported slaughter sheep for 3, 6, 9, 15, 18 or 24 hr and compared them to three groups that were not transported—one group of which was deprived of food and water for 24 hr; chemical measurements did not indicate that the sheep had become severely dehydrated after 24 hr. (c) Knowles et al. (1996) studied lambs shipped from the UK to France by lorry and concluded that, for journeys longer than 24 hr, an 8-hr rest, in lairage with access to water and food was beneficial and allowed material realimentation and rehydration before further transport for up to 10 hr. (d) Broom et al. (1996) investigated physiological effects of road transport of sheep and determined that loading and the start of driving produced large increases in cortisol and prolactin concentrations (in the first 3 hr of a 15-hr journey) but during the remaining 12 hr, the stimulatory effect of transport was present but small. (e) Cockram et al. (2000) transported sheep for 16 hr and concluded that the lower post-transport feed and water intakes in a novel environment did not have a significant effect on the ability of sheep to recover from the feed and water deprivation associated with transport. (f) Cockram et al. (2004) videotaped, simultaneously, activities on a vehicle during transport of sheep and determined that “driving style” had a major influence on the welfare of the animals (e.g., risk of injury) through the accelerations caused by braking, cornering and various other driving events and the manner of their driving performance.
Long distance transport (18 hr and 24 hr) of lambs from the UK to France was investigated by Knowles et al. (1994) with these results: (a) High levels of plasma beta-hydroxybutyrate, free fatty acids and urea, both before and after the journeys, indicated that the animals were in a catabolic state. (b) Before the journey, this was probably as a result of their marketing through livestock auctions; after the journey, the animals showed evidence of dehydration. (c) The behavior of the sheep after the journeys indicated that they were all alert and physically fit; they showed great interest in any food that was available and were only secondarily interested in drinking, and then resting. Knowles (1998) reported that: (a) Mortality for sheep sold directly from the farm to the packing plant was 0.007% compared to 0.031% for sheep marketed through auctions and then sent to the packing plant. (b) Rest stops for sheep during transport are detrimental. (c) Complete recovery from 14 hr of transport stress takes almost 5 days. (d) Sheep do not lie down immediately during transport; they tend to lie down in increasing numbers during the first 5 to 10 hr of the journey.
Grandin (2000b) concluded that: (a) Sheep are more tolerant of road transport than other species of farm animals. (b) Most research indicates that a rest stop must last for at least 8 hr to provide enough time for sheep to eat and drink. Sheep will eat before they drink; if the rest stop is too short, they will not have time to drink. (c) Space allowances for sheep during transport in m2/animal are 0.2 to 0.3 m2 for shorn lambs <55 kg liveweight; corresponding allowances are >0.3 m2 for shorn lambs >55 kg, 0.3 to 0.4 m2 for unshorn lambs <55 kg, >0.4 m2 for unshorn lambs >55 kg, 0.4 to 0.5 m2 for pregnant ewes <55 kg, and >0.5 m2 for pregnant ewes >55 kg. (d) There is research evidence which concludes that there were no differences in bruising when 35 kg sheep were transported at 0.22 m2/head vs. 0.40 m2/head; the latter study refutes the common belief that sheep must be packed in a truck to prevent bruising. (e) The stocking densities recommended by Knowles (1998) are tighter than those recommended by Grandin (1981b) and MAFINZ (1994) while both of the latter two references recommend tighter stocking densities than does MAFFUK (1998). (f) One of the difficulties in interpreting the results of studies on sheep stress is the difficulty in separating the stress caused by transport, from the stress caused by gathering on the farm or at auction markets, and from differing degrees of physiological stress.
Grandin (1997) concludes that the highly variable results in research studies of transport may be due to different levels of “fear” stress. Sheep accustomed to loading and handling may be less stressed by transport, especially if trips are short where fatigue and physical stress would be lesser factors. If sheep were habituated to loading procedures, Broom et al. (1996) found that the stress from loading could be separated from the stress of transport.
Roeber et al. (2001a) concluded that handling and transportation play a very important role in overall sheep management, emphasizing that: (a) At-slaughter-plant condemnations for 1998 through 2000 revealed that injuries resulted in 3.7% and 7.8% of carcass condemnations in mature sheep and lamb/yearlings, respectively. (b) Improper handling or transportation can result in bruising, broken bones, condemnation and even death. (c) Proper handling facilities and techniques minimize stress to the sheep. (d) It is the responsibility of livestock producers to consider the welfare of the animals in their care; cruelty, abuse and neglect cannot be tolerated.
MAFAIE (2004), in characterizing importance of animal welfare considerations for transporting animals domestically and internationally, states that the five basic requirements of animals that were considered in developing its “Transport Standards” were: (1) Ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigor. (2) The provision of appropriate comfort and shelter. (3) The prevention, or rapid diagnosis and treatment, of injury, disease or infestation with parasites. (4) Freedom from distress. (5) The ability to display normal patterns of behavior. Blackwood and Hurst (2004) state that in Australia, the Code of Practice for Land Transport states that sheep must be given water at least every 12 hr, and food at least once every 24 hr (every 8 hr in the case of young animals). Sheep must be rested after a journey of 36 hr, although this time may be extended to 48 hr if the journey can be completed in that time.
The US National Sheep Quality Audit—1992 (Cunningham and LeValley, 1992) determined that the third largest quality-defect loss ($6.00 per affected lamb) in the US market sheep population was carcass trim loss due to bruises. According to Blackwood and Hurst (2004), around 25% of sheep are bruised before slaughter; the main causes of bruising are one sheep riding up onto the one in front because drovers are pushing them to move faster than they can go, and reluctant sheep being pulled (by drovers) by the wool to move forward.
Welfare of sheep and goats that are transported by truck within New Zealand is discussed by MAFAWG (2003). Under “Stock Owner/Person-In-Charge’s Responsibilities,” MAFAWG (2003) says it is the responsibility of that person to select fit and healthy animals for travel, provide well-maintained and safe loading facilities, include a rest period and withdraw food 4 to 6 hr before transport, and to provide shelter from heat, wind and cold in the holding yards and adequate ventilation if the shelter is fully enclosed. Under “Transport Owners And Stock Truck Driver’s Responsibilities,” MAFAWG (2003) specifies that this person is legally responsible under the Animal Welfare Act 1999 for the care and welfare or animals during transport, and must: (a) Refuse to transport unfit animals. (b) Provide comfortable and secure accommodation; animals must not be confined or transported in a manner or position that causes pain or distress. (c) Provide sufficient food and water. (d) Stop and assist distressed or injured animals immediately. As a fitness “checklist,” animals are fit for transport provided they: (a) Are able to stand and bear weight on all limbs and (b) will arrive in a state similar to that when loaded and, (c) are likely to travel without unnecessary pain or suffering (MAFAWG, 2003).
Under “Loading Animals,” MAFAWG (2003) specifies: (a) Align stock crate doors with the loading race. (b) Limbs and heads must not protrude outside the sides and tops of the vehicle. (c) Animals must not be loaded on the top deck if there is any risk of them striking their heads on low bridges or other obstructions. (d) The aim in determining loading density is to minimize injury and allow any cast animals room to rise, by not packing animals too loosely or too tightly. (e) Guideline space allowances for sheep and goats are in m2/head and increase on a graduated scale that specifies 0.14 m2 for 20 kg, 0.21 m2 for 40 kg and 0.31 m2 for 60 kg liveweight animals. Calculations are also provided in terms of numbers of animals per m2 with the proviso that sheep numbers are based on animals with 25 mm of wool; for full-wooled sheep the number should be reduced by up to 25%. (f) To reduce the likelihood of injury, use partitions/pens to separate animals into similar groups (i.e., pen horned animals separately; separate animals of different classes, sexes, sizes and physiological status).
Research on stocking density for sheep transported by road includes: (a) Knowles et al. (1998) transported shorn lambs in summer at densities ranging from 0.448 to 0.769 m2/100 kg and fully-fleeced lambs in winter at densities ranging from 0.613 to 0.909 and found differences only in the amount of lambs that lay down and in plasma levels of creatine kinase. (b) Warriss et al. (2002) monitored 74 vehicles bringing 6,578 sheep to a commercial packing plant and reported that more than 30% of the animals in the survey were transported at densities higher than the working recommendations made by the Farm Animal Welfare Council.
Baldock and Sibly (1990) reported that placing ewes in a stationary trailer had no effect on heart rate but that transportation of these ewes for 20 min in the trailer produced an increase of 12 beats per min; this might be because the ewes braced themselves to stay upright in the trailer, or because the ewes primed their muscles for escape should the opportunity arise. Richardson (2002) has developed a “FactSheet” to assist producers and truckers in avoiding heat and cold stress in transported sheep; it emphasizes checking on the weather before leaving, knowing what you can do to reduce the effects of severe weather on the sheep at anytime during the trip, and changing the timing of the trip if necessary.
Under “Food And Water Requirements,” MAFAWG (2003) specifies: (a) Water must be provided at least every 12 hr for mature, nonlactating animals and at least every 8 hr for lactating or young animals. (b) Mature animals must not be without food for more than 24 hr and young animals must not be without food for more than 12 hr. Under “Shelter During Transport,” MAFAWG (2003) states that: (a) Shelter must be provided from heat, wind and cold. (b) Lambs, recently shorn animals and animals in poor condition should be transported in enclosed vehicles or be provided with substantial protection from unfavorable weather. (c) Shorn animals should be at least 3 days off shears.
Under “Pregnant And Lactating Animals,” MAFAWG (2003) specifies: (a) If possible, transport early in pregnancy, plan well ahead and obtain veterinary advice if necessary. (b) Carefully consider transporting animals in their last third of pregnancy and those that have recently given birth. (c) Pre-condition animals before a long haul journey by feeding hay for 5 to 7 days. (d) Refuse animals that are likely to give birth during transport. (e) Examine pregnant animals and offer water as soon as possible after unloading, on arrival at their destination. (f) Provide rest periods of 12 hr after each 10 hr of travel, which includes loading and unloading when planning a journey. Under “Inspections,” MAFAWG (2003) says to inspect animals within 30 min of departure and then at least every 2 hr throughout the journey. And, under “Driving,” MAFAWG (2003) directs driving steadily, avoiding rapid acceleration and braking as much as possible; take corners at an appropriate speed to reduce the centrifugal force.
Scientific evidence shows increasing stress and mortality in all classes of poultry as transportation time, holding time and feed- and water-deprivation time increase (Weeks and Nicol, 2000). Warriss et al. (1993) investigated broilers transported for 2, 4 or 6 hr after 1 to 10 hr feed withdrawal; transport significantly reduced liver weight but did not affect live or carcass weights. Knowles et al. (1995a) reported that withdrawal of food alone, or of both feed and water, for 24 hr resulted in a 10% decrease in liveweight of which 41% was loss in carcass weight of broiler chickens. Warriss et al. (1999) followed commercial processing of broiler chickens at two packing plants and concluded that holding birds in lairage (as opposed to killing them upon arrival at the plant) for 1, 2 or 3 hr increased their body temperature and depleted their liver glycogen but did not dehydrate them or physically stress them. Carlisle et al. (1998) reported that birds found exposure to 5 Hz to be extremely aversive, suggesting that vibrations occurring on commercial broiler transporters can induce a number of conspicuous physiological responses which may contribute to transportation stress experienced by broiler chickens in transit to slaughter.
The ARMCANZ (1998) Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals report “Land Transport of Poultry” says its intent is to encourage considerate treatment of birds so that transport stress and injury are minimized; its general objective is to minimize any adverse effects on birds by ensuring that they are transported to their destination as safely as possible. It further states that to prevent birds being without food or water for more than 18 hr there should be contingency plans for truck or processing plant breakdowns. Under “Minimizing Stress,’ ARMCANZ (1998) states that: (a) Birds being transported are subject to stresses which include catching and handling; deprivation of food, water and freedom of normal movement; changes in climatic conditions, and; unfamiliar surroundings, noises and sensations. (b) Unnecessary transport of birds must be avoided; any transport that is required should be carried out safely and in a manner that minimizes stress, pain and suffering. (c) Particular care needs to be taken with end-of-lay hens; the may be vulnerable to injury as their bones may be weak.
Under “Pre-Transport Preparation,” ARMCANZ (1998) specifies that: (a) The owner or agent must ensure that only fit and healthy birds are selected for travel. (b) Birds, excluding day-old chicks, should not be held in containers for longer than 24 hr unless they have access to water, and must receive feed during the 24 hr prior to travel (except that it is not advisable to feed birds destined for slaughter for 3 to 6 hr before loading. (c) Every effort should be made to protect birds from the adverse effects of direct sunlight, radiant and reflected heat, wind, rain and hail. (d) Cages must be thoroughly cleaned and if necessary disinfected before poultry are loaded into them. (e) Transport containers (i.e., cages) cannot be less than 20 cm wide and 25 cm high, and be properly designed (e.g., to prevent escape from, or the protrusion of any part of the bird through the container); containers should be ventilated and of sufficient height to allow poultry, excluding turkeys, to stand and move during transport.
Under “Loading Poultry,” ARMCANZ (1998) specifies that: (a) Different species of poultry must not be mixed during traveling. (b) All members of the catching, loading and transporting crews should be provided with adequate instructions and be knowledgeable about the basic aspects of animal welfare. (c) Containers of live birds should be moved n a horizontal position, must not be thrown or purposefully dropped, and must be moved smoothly during loading, transport and unloading. (d) Loading density specifies transport container space requirements as minimum floor space (animals per m2) by categories such that day-old chicks require 400 to 475 chicks per m2, poultry less than 1.0 to 1.6 kg require 40 birds per m2, poultry 2.2 kg to 3.0 kg require 28 birds per m2 and poultry more than 5.0 kg require 100 cm per kg, with the proviso that the minimum space allowance should be increased if the weather is hot and humid. (e) Transport container height requirements range from 12 cm for day-old chicks, turkey poults and ducklings, to 23 cm for broiler chickens, to 32 cm for turkeys. (f) End-of-lay hens require very careful handling to minimize bone breakage. (g) Broiler chickens should be caught in sheds in which the lighting has been reduced, and placed in crates that minimize movement of the chickens and prevents injury and distress. (h) The number of birds that can be carried per handler and the part of the bird by which carrying is permitted are codified for layer hens, broiler chickens, geese, ducks and turkeys. (i) Conditions required for transporting day-old chickens are codified and include details of ventilation, protection from direct sunlight, floor space and maximum transportation time.
According to Houpt and Leib (2000), most transport of recreational horses is accomplished using a private, towed, horse trailer or large commercial-type van, and—in nearly all cases—these horses have individual stalls and care while in transit; conversely, slaughter horses are transported in semi-trailers and are loose. Double decker or pot-bellied livestock trailers designed to transport cattle are not well suited to transport horses because they lack sufficient height and their internal ramps are difficult for horses to negotiate (Grandin et al., 1999). Houpt and Leib (2000) say reasonably safe, low-stress and humane transport of horses can be accomplished if the following points are addressed; (a) Use of a transport vehicle suitable to the type of horse(s) being moved and its proper maintenance and operation. (b) Preconditioning of the animals to be transported, both behaviorally and medically. (c) Completion of required governmental medical vaccinations, tests and quarantine specifications necessary for leaving and entering controlled areas. (d) Careful loading, movement and offloading that avoids traumatic injury to the animals. (c) Proper care while in transit to ensure that the horses arrive in a healthy condition, free of long-term stress and ready to perform. (f) Monitoring of the stress accumulation of horses subjected to repeated and/or prolonged transportation situations, especially when additional stressful factors precede or follow. (g) Trained handling and medical personnel to properly accomplish the above.
Collins et al. (2000) determined loading-density effects on displacement (distance moved during a stop), falls and injuries using slaughter-type horses in a single-deck open-topped commercial semi-trailer and reported that: (a) Average displacement among densities (1.28 m2/horse vs. 2.23 m2/horse) was not different. (b) The proportion of horses that fell, in the high-density treatment (40%) was greater than in the low-density treatment (17%). (c) The proportion of horses injured was greater in high density (64%) than low-density (29%) treatments but there was not a significant difference in the average severity of injury for the high-density treatment (1.77) versus the low-density treatment (0.92). (d) In summary, high stocking density of horses during transport increases the incidence of falls and injuries, and makes it more difficult to get up when a subject was floored. Federal Register (2001) describes US federal law regarding transport of horses and specifically requires that horses must be provided food, water and rest for 6 hr prior to loading and that horses that have been on a conveyance for 28 consecutive hours must be offloaded and provided food, water and rest for 6 hr before proceeding to the destination.
Friend (2001) reviewed the literature on transportation of horses and concluded that: (a) Horses show extreme dehydration after 28 hr of transportation in hot and humid conditions. (b) Watering horses on board trailers will alleviate dehydration, but fatigue can become extreme after 28 hr of transport. (c) Orientation (facing forward, back or diagonal) does not seem to significantly affect a horse’s ability to maintain its balance. (d) Loose-horses that are transported in groups at high densities (e.g., slaughter horses) do not hold each other up, but inhibit each others’ attempts to compensate for changes in inertial forces and have increased injuries; the ability of horses to stand once they fall is also inhibited. (e) High density transport also prevents submissive horses from moving away from aggressive horses, resulting in repeated aggression. (f) Reducing density, however, greatly increases transportation costs. (g) A major challenge is determining which of the myriad of trailer design, suspension systems, and building materials available are preferable from the standpoint of the horse.
Grandin et al. (1999) studied horses arriving at two slaughter plants and reported that: (a) 92% of the horses arrived in good condition and 8% had a condition that was rated a serious welfare problem. (b) 3% of the horses were emaciated, 1% had foot and limb problems (other than fractures), 0.4% had fractured limbs, 2% had deep cuts, lacerations or injuries from bites, 0.8% were nonambulatory or dead-on-arrival, 0.2% had deformities, 0.3% had extensive purulent lesions, and 0.1% had a behavior problem. (c) Characteristic patterns of 51% of carcass bruises indicated that they were caused by bites or kicks. (d) Fighting was the major cause of injuries that occurred during transport and marketing. (e) Abuse or neglect by owners was the cause of 77% of the severe welfare problems observed. (f) Implication was that to decrease the number of injuries that result from fighting when transporting horses to slaughter plants, aggressive mares and geldings that continually attack other horses must be segregated.
Stull (1999) studied horses transported to slaughter plants with distances of 596 to 2,496 km and reported that: (a) Mean weight loss during commercial transport was 4%. (b) The percentage of injured horses was greater for two-tiered “pot-belly” (29.2%), compared with straight-deck (8.0%), trailers; however, the stress indicators of cortisol and neutrophil:lymphocyte ratio and rectal temperature showed greater responses following transport in straight-deck trailers. (c) As trip duration increased form 5 hr 45 min, to 30 hr, muscle fatigue (lactate concentration) and dehydration (hematocrit and total protein concentration) were the major physiological considerations, especially in durations over 27 hr. (d) The percentage of horses injured was less in trailers with 1.14 to 1.31 m2 of floor area per horse than in trailers with 1.40 to 1.54 m2 of floor area per horse; however, most physiological responses (white blood cell count, total protein concentration, and neutrophil:lymphocyte ratio) to transportation were less in horses provided with the greater floor area.
Friend et al. (1998) conducted a study to characterize progressive patterns of dehydration, stress responses and water, consumption in horses transported long distances in hot weather and concluded that: (a) Horses that were penned and offered water, drank a mean of 38.2 L, and horses that were transported and offered water drank 20.9 L, but some of the latter horses did not drink until after 19 or 24 hr of transport. (b) In horses that were transported or penned and not offered water, serum electrolyte concentrations were greater than reference range values by 19 hr. (c) Most horses that were transported and offered water, consumed adequate water to postpone severe dehydration beyond 24 hr. (d) Tame horses in good condition and initially deprived of access to water for approximately 6 hr can be transported in groups in open trailers during hot, humid conditions for up to 24 hr before dehydration and fatigue become severe. (e) Rectal temperature and appearance of the horses were the most useful measures for determining crisis situations.
Stull and Rodiek (2000) assessed physiological responses of horses to 24 hr of transport in a commercial van under California summer conditions and reported that the data clearly showed physiological responses of horses undergoing 24 hr of transport, including changes in muscle metabolism, stress indices, dehydration and immune parameters, and body weight. They concluded that those responses may increase disease susceptibility and influence energy availability for athletic performance following long-term transport of horses.
Friend (2000) characterized progressive dehydration, stress responses and water consumption patterns of horses transported long distances in hot weather and reported that: (a) Mean weight loss after 30 hr was greater in the Penned (57.1 kg, 12.8%) and Transported (52.2 kg, 10.3%) groups than in the Transported/Watered (20.7 kg, 4.0%) and Penned/Watered (17.0 kg, 3.5%) groups. (b) Respiration, heart rate, sodium, chloride, total protein and osmolality were significantly elevated in the non-watered horses, and sodium, chloride, total protein and osmolality greatly exceeded normal reference ranges, indicating severe dehydration. (c) Transporting healthy horses for more than 24 hr during hot weather and without water will cause severe dehydration; transport for more than 28 hr—even with periodic access to water—will likely be harmful due to increasing fatigue. Respiration rate above 50 per min was the most efficacious measure of risk from dehydration and heat.
Friend (2004) says the European Commission is considering new regulations that would require the unloading of horses, during transport, for food, water and rest at 8 to 10 hr intervals. Friend (2004) reported results of a research study he has conducted on “Relieving Transport Stress In Slaughter Horses; On-Truck Watering”; those trials: (a) Proved that the watering system was worthy of further evaluation and that all of the behavioral and environmental measurement equipment works. (b) In one trial, horses offered water twice during a 16-hr trip had a 1.06% increase in body weight; those horses actually gained weight while on the truck equipped with a waterer because they had been deprived of access to water prior to being loaded. (c) Overall, the watering system appeared to reduce shrink by approximately half during hot weather; a subsequent trial found that offering horses water during cool weather had little effect on weight loss when compared to non-watered controls although a large portion of the horses did consume water when it was offered. Friend (2004) believes offering horses feed on a regular basis could be a possible benefit of periodic “rest periods,” but if horses (or other livestock) are being transported directly to slaughter, the animals are generally not fed within 24 hr of slaughter in order to reduce gut fill and the possibility of carcass contamination.
Houpt and Lieb (2000) summarized transport stress in horses as follows: (a) Limited research indicates that short (~ 1 hr) transits just prior to submaximal exercise performance are not detrimental to the horse. (b) For normal healthy horses, longer transits (4 to 24 hr), even though they produce some measurable changes in weight loss, heart rates, dehydration and some metabolites, hormones and other blood factors, including cortisol (Clark et al., 1993; Friend et al., 1998) do not appear to be injurious to a horse’s general well-being or health, and require only 1 to 2 d of recovery for most horses. (c) Continuous transport of breeding mares for 9 to 12 hr, according to Baucus et al. (1990a,b), produced measurable stress but did not interfere with the normal reproductive functions of the estrous cycle and early gestation. (d) Mild to severe respiratory dysfunction and disease changes, even pneumonia, can occur during or following transport by ground and air and tend to remain for several days to several weeks after clinical signs of disease disappear. (e) Smith et al. (1996) studied horses during and after 24 hr of transit and speculated that exposure to pathogenic agents that initiate injury to the respiratory epithelium before or during transport and trailers that are not well ventilated or horses that have a greated individual stress response may be responsible for the development of respiratory disease post-transport. (f) Transport for 4 to 12 hr or longer tends to be measurably stressful and horses will reduce their water and feed intakes significantly while in a moving vehicle or trailer (Smith et al., 1996; Friend et al., 1998). (g) Transport personnel should stop for brief rest periods and offer water every 3 to 6 hr of transit to encourage the consumption of water and hay, and, after every 16 to 24 of transit, a complete offloading of the horse for an extended 12-hr rest period is recommended. (h) Some horses refuse all food and drink while being transported and may need special care during long trips (Friend et al., 1998). (i) In hot environments, care should be taken not to leave a horse in a parked trailer/van in the sun, as heatstroke can occur from extreme temperature rises within it. (j) Kusunose and Torikai (1996) demonstrated that even normal, healthy horses offered water enroute will dehydrate, and that the consumption of food and water is greatly increased when the van/trailer is standing rather than moving.
Evidence has accumulated which indicates that there is not one optimal orientation for horses while they are in transit, but rather that they are free to raise and lower their heads and have some freedom of movement. Clark et al. (1993) reported that rear facing horses had fewer side, and total, impacts and losses of balance, but attributed the difference to the forward facing horses’ heads being secured over a saddle compartment. Smith et al. (1994a) reported that mature horses spent more time facing backward to the direction of travel when the trailer was in motion but not when it was parked; heart rates were higher when the trailer was moving but there was no difference in heart rate when the horse was tethered facing forward or backward vs. untethered. Waran et al. (1996) found lower heart rates in horses facing rearwards vs. forward in the direction of travel and postulated that rearward-facing horses could use their fore limbs more effectively than their hind limbs to balance for lateral trailer movements, placing more weight on the front limbs and better protecting their heads. Kusunose and Torikai (1996) found that, with normal driving conditions, horses increased their amount of backward facing behavior and decreased the number of body-position changes with each successive driving trial; with abrupt-stop driving conditions, horses had a high incidence of position changes and could not settle on a favored standing position during transport. Gibbs and Friend (1999) reported that loose (not tied) horses spent the greatest percentage of time (57%) facing the direction of travel, between 22? to the left of, and 67? to the right of parallel but overall, there was a slight preference for a 45? orientation, no preference for facing either away from or towards the direction of travel and balancing ability was not meaningfully affected by the orientations evaluated in this study. Collins et al. (2000) concluded that horses did not show a preference for facing forward (47.5%) or away (40.7%) from the direction of travel and orientation did not differ between high vs. low loading densities. Toscano and Friend (2001) concluded that certain horses did demonstrate a superior ability to maintain balance in a particular orientation thus individual characteristics and other factors may play a larger role than orientation alone in the ability of horses to maintain balance during transport.
Stull and Rodiek (2002) compared physiological responses of horses traveling loose or cross-tied during 24 hr of road transport. The response of white blood cell counts, neutrophil to lymphocyte ratios, and glucose and cortisol concentrations was significantly elevated in the cross-tied, compared to the loose, group during transport and recovery, supporting the recommendation of allowing horses during long-term transportation to travel loose in small compartments, without elevating their head by cross-tying (Stull and Rodiek, 2002).
The ARMCANZ (1997b) Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals report “Land Transport of Horses” says horses can be efficiently and humanely transported by rail or road if: (a) Care is given to the selection and preparation of horses prior to transportation. (b) Care is taken in the loading of horses using facilities well designed for horses. (c) The trip is scheduled to minimize delays in travel or at the point of disembarkation of the horses. Under “Pre-Transport Preparation of Horses,” ARMCANZ (1997b) specifies: (a) Frightened horses are difficult to load or transport so should be given time to acclimatize before transport. (b) Groups of horses unfamiliar to each other should be segregated during the pre-transport period. (c) Drinking water must be provided in assembly yards or pens; if kept in yards more than 12 hr, or if about to travel more than 12 hr, horses must be provided hay or alternate feed. (d) Access to shelter from heat, wind and cold should be provided in very hot or cold weather. (e) Weakened horses should be transported to their destination by the shortest practicable route.
Under “Loading,” ARMCANZ (1997b) specifies that: (a) The loading procedure should be planned to allow adequate time for stock to be loaded quietly and without causing them injury. (b) Horses should not be routinely sedated for travel; sedation should only be used on horses with very specific behavioral problems. (c) Horses must only be loaded onto vehicles that have been thoroughly cleaned. (d) Correctly fitted hoods, blankets, blinkers, sheets, knee/hock caps and bandages, as well as head stalls and halters, can be used as protective equipment. (e) There should be no protrusions or sharp edges on the framework, doorways or partitions capable of injuring animals. (f) A flat platform (not less than 1.5 m long) at the top of the ramp (with a slope of not more than 20?) should be used for loading. (g) Artificial lighting is desirable for loading at night. (h) Horses of different categories (e.g., unbroken horses, stallions older than 1 yr, heavily pregnant mares, etc.) should be separately stalled. (i) Sticks, metal pipes or leather belts must never be used to beat horses but may be used sensibly to encourage horses to move as can flappers, metallic rattles and electric prods.
Under “Transport Design,” ARMCANZ (1997b) provides details of construction design (strength of fittings, door sizes, floor surfaces, wall padding, etc.), use of partitions and ventilation of vehicles used to transport horses. Under “Loading Density During Transport,” ARMCANZ (1997b) specifies recommended floor area (m2/head), for loose penning of horses, on a graduated scale that increases from 0.7 m2 for horses 5 to 12 months old, to 1.0 m2 for horses 18 to 24 months old, to 1.2 m2 for adult horses, and says those figures may vary by up to 10% for adult horses and ponies, and up to 20% for young horses and foals.
Under “Travel,” ARMCANZ (1997b) specifies that: (a) Transport should be completed with minimum delay; where delays cannot be avoided, adequate care regarding feeding watering, ventilation and shelter is necessary. (b) Drivers should drive smoothly to prevent bruising and the risk of injury. (c) All animals must be watered and fed at least once in each 36 hr period; young animals and lactating mares require feeding and watering every 8 hr. (d) Consignments by road should be inspected within 30 min of commencing a journey and at least every 4 hr thereafter. Under “Rest Periods,” ARMCANZ (1997b) specifies that: (a) “Rest stops” which involve unloading and loading horses may impose a greater stress than continuing the journey for a limited period. In hot weather, “rest stops” may be disadvantageous to traveling horses because air flow associated with the movement of the vehicle may be conducive to horse welfare. (b) Horses should be transported to their destination as soon as possible; if delays occur, adequate care must be given to the animals particularly regarding feeding, watering and ventilation. (c) After each 36 hr of travel, a “spelling period” of at least 12 hr should be provided for all horses; feed and water musts be available for at least 12 hr. (d) During every specified “spelling period” horses must be unloaded, have access to food and water, have enough space for exercise and rest, and be separated in accordance with companion groups.
Under “Unloading,” ARMCANZ (1997b) specifies: (a) Horses should be unloaded upon arrival at the destination, offered food and water, and if possible allowed to rest. (b) All horses should be offered water upon arrival at the destination. (c) When horses have been without food for more than 24 hr or are to be held in yards for 24 hr or more, they must be provided with food except when they are to be slaughtered the same day. (d) The health status of the horses should be monitored on arrival. If sick, they should be treated as soon as possible; if fatally ill, they should immediately be humanely euthanized. Under “Minimizing Stress,” ARMCANZ (1997b) specifies: (a) Horses may be stressed during transport by the handling involved in assembling them; they should be handled quietly and carefully so neither they nor other horses nearby are unduly disturbed by the process. (b) The horses most likely to be affected by stress are those not accustomed to handling, those in poor condition, those that are excessively fat, pregnant mares, and the young and the old. (c) It is important that transporters realize that animals constrained by transport cannot seek shade, shelter or move away from cold drafts, and that the stress of transport will be increased by inclement weather. (d) Horses being transported to slaughter should preferably be transported directly to the nearest licensed horse abattoir to reduce the time off feed, handling and transport stress.
Practical experience in the US, transporting 400 lb (180 kg) to 600 lb (270 kg) beef calves, indicates that, for cattle that can reach their destination within 32 hr, there is less sickness if the truck does not unload them at a rest stop. Many of the calves on these trucks are not routinely vaccinated at the ranch of origin. What is not known is—“would these cattle benefit from a rest stop if they had been vaccinated and/or preweaned 45 days prior to the trip?”
Research studies on cattle and horses indicate that at approximately 24 hr into the journey, fatigue becomes a significant factor. At this point, animals may try to lie down. On longer trips, more space in the trailer should be provided to enable animals to lie down. Pigs will lie down after a few hours. It is my opinion that, in many situations, rest stops every 8 hr may be detrimental to animal welfare. Examination of research data from many studies indicates that animals will benefit from being watered during the journey. Developing methods for watering animals when a truck stops for fuel would be beneficial. Other options, instead of an unload-and-reload rest stop would be stopping in a yard that is equipped with fans, so the fans could be used to keep animals cool while they rest on the vehicle. On long trips, the animals would have to be provided with sufficient space to lie down. A long trip for a pig would be a short trip for a steer. Pigs would need more space for trips lasting for more than 3 hr and cattle would need more space for trips lasting more than 24 hr unless they were unloaded at a rest stop.
Many countries have regulations that require that animals be unloaded at a rest stop if the trip lasts more than 48 hr. I am in agreement with this. The only exception would be vehicles in which all of the animals had sufficient space to lie down at the same time without being on top of each other. I recommend the following: (1) On trips lasting over 48 hr, the animals should have a minimum of one rest stop where they are unloaded—unless the vehicle has sufficient space for all animals to lie down at the same time without being on top of each other. (2) Stocking density should be loose enough so that if an animal falls down on a vehicle, it can easily get back up without being trampled. (3) On trips lasting over 24 hr, ruminants and horses should have sufficient space to safely lie down and not be trampled by other animals that are standing. Pigs will need additional space to lie down on trips longer than 3 hr.
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As with most stressors, transportation is a compilation of several stressors which can have additive, deleterious effects upon an animal. Broken down into its components, transportation stress is comprised of stressors due to: mixing of livestock with those to whom they have not previously established a hierarchy, handling of livestock by stockpersons, physical challenges associated with movement up and down ramps and on slippery surfaces, the actual movement of the stock in a truck or rail during transportation which can cause motion sickness and can cause animals to loose their balance, exposure to environmental extremes such as temperature and humidity, lack of water, lack of food, and lack of rest. Any proposal to alleviate transportation stress therefore must address and acknowledge each of these components. A proposal that might increase the occurrence of any one of the components that is responsible for transportation stress, with the goal of decreasing the occurrence of a separate component, risks actually increasing an animal’s exposure to stress as opposed to decreasing stress. For instance, off-loading stock at regular intervals during an extended trip may decrease the stress associated with the lack of water, food and rest; but it does so at the expense of increasing the stress associated with handling, load and unloading, and possible re-mixing of individuals. The net effect could be positive or negative dependant upon many qualitative factors associated with each stressor.
Although two events can be categorized as stressors, it does not imply that stock are exposed to equal amounts of stress when subjected to either. This is a very important consideration when we propose to decrease transportation stress. Both handling and the deprivation of rest can be considered stressful components of transportation stress. However, on average, livestock are typically active, that is not resting, for at least one-third to one-half of every day. Thus, any deprivation of rest would not start to occur until the animal was past its normal period of activity. For instance, horses in the wild typically graze for 16 hours each day. Any deprivation from a rest would thus not be initiated until after this period and would build over time. In contrast, the stress associated with handling of stock is immediate and has been shown to provide both behavioral and physiological indicators of stress. Similarly, research on transportation has shown that stress associated with loading swine on a truck increases heart rate, but the relatively less stressful act of riding on the truck allows heart rates to decrease (Marchant-Forde et al., 2003). Therefore, proposals to decrease the stress of transportation should first attempt to decrease those stressors that prove most deleterious to stock, with a stepwise move to eliminate subsequent stressors.
Several of the potential stressors associated with transportation stress are not actually stressful to stock until they reach a critical limit. For instance, an animal deprived of food for a short duration will not be subjected to stress. Only when stock are subjected to deprivation for a long duration may the animal enter a state of distress that should be addressed. Environmental conditions will also influence these states. For instance, high humidity and temperature require animals to dissipate more heat in order to maintain homeostasis. Water loss is associated with heat loss in animals and thus when subjected to these conditions stock need a greater water intake to prevent them from entering a state of distress associated with dehydration. Similarly, how stock are handled during transportation can have a profound effect as to the magnitude of stress to which they are exposed during transportation. However, it is clear that stock are exposed to some level of stress every time they are handled and loaded onto a truck, whereas food, water and rest deprivation during this time does not have such a consistent effect.
Decreased density also allows for consumption of water on board during stops. Dehydration is rapid when temperatures are above 32o C, but studies have deprived horses of water for 6 days or more in cold conditions without adverse effects (Tasker, 1967). Horses experiencing temperatures greater than 32o C for 8 hours or longer should be offered water at no less than 8-hour intervals starting after 12 hours of transport.
Unloading and reloading of loose horses for short periods of rest is counter- productive. The unloading and reloading process can cause serious injuries in groups of loose horses, and horses are not likely to get meaningful rest until they settle down in a novel environment, which could take a day or more, and the overall length of the journey is greatly extended. For trips exceeding 24 hours, loading horses at reduced density and providing 30 min on-board rest periods with access to water containing electrolytes and an energy source appears to be very promising. Such rest periods are probably not needed until after 16 to 24 hours of transport, but research is continuing on on-board rest. The truck engine needs to be turned off during on-board rest periods.
In general, horses should not be transported in double or multi deck trucks. The internal ramps contribute to injuries and the lack of headroom makes the trip a constant struggle for the averaged size adult horse, greatly accelerating fatigue.
If groups of loose horses are to be unloaded for rest, the unloading and loading facility needs to be excellent.
When transporting loose horses, highly aggressive horses will require special handling and perhaps isolation.
Bos indicus cattle and cattle with even a small percentage of Bos indicus, as well as certain “exotic breeds” of European cattle, have a greatly increased tendency to lie down and “give up” when crowded in trucks. Special care must be taken not to over crowd such types of cattle. The frequency of rest stops will likely not help such cattle because they tend to go down shortly after being crowded.
The setting of travel time limits, rest periods and provisioning of food and water for livestock relative to land transport appear to be fundamentally intertwined with the previous themes. The interruption of travel at specified 8 to 10 hour intervals may be warranted under certain conditions (livestock condition, infrastructure to support transport, terrain, etc.) and unwarranted under others. Empirical evidence is conflicting as to the benefits of rest periods and likely attributed to the variable nature of the conditions of transport as cited above. Layered on to these concerns is the issue of the maintenance of the biological integrity and security of the transported livestock. The setting of a uniform criterion for time in transit and rest periods is not practical or supported by the scientific literature, and under some circumstances could produce negative impact to livestock welfare. This does not imply that further consideration should not be given to rest provisioning for livestock during long periods of road transport. Based on current scientific evidence, species specific recommendations may be possible. Decision grids could be constructed based on variables such as animal age, fitness, terrain, weather condition, etc. to provide guidance on when the provisioning of rest, food and water should be applied.
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