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Application of the welfare quality protocol in pig slaughterhouses of five countries

By A. Dalmau, A. Nande, M. Vieira-Pinto, S. Zamprogna, G. di Martino, J. C. R. Ribas, M. P. da Costa, K. Halinen-Elemo, A. Velarde

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Abstract

The objective of the present study is to assess the variability of the measures used in the welfare quality (WQ) protocol for pigs among slaughterhouses in five different countries and to propose alarm and critical thresholds for the calculation of scores for future development of an animal welfare certification scheme. The WQ protocol was applied in 52,468 pigs in 42 slaughterhouses in 5 countries (Portugal, Italy, Finland, Brazil and Spain). The welfare assessment started in the unloading area, where measures of general fear, thermoregulation, slipping and falling, lameness, sickness and mortality were taken. Concerning lairage, space allowance, drinking points, thermoregulation and mortality were considered, and the human-animal relationship was assessed by means of high-pitched vocalisations when pigs were moved from lairage to the stunning system. Finally, stunning effectiveness, skin lesions and presence of pneumonia, pleurisy, pericarditis and white spots on the liver were assessed in the stunning area and after slaughtering the animals. There was a large degree of variability among slaughterhouses for measurements made. For instance, the percentage of animals slipping ranged from 0.4% to 57%. Pigs with signs of recovery after stunning ranged from 0% to 90% and the percentage of carcasses that were severely damaged with skin lesions ranged from 0% to 48%. The data obtained can be useful to establish some thresholds for future uses of the WQ protocol. Electric stunning was associated with more animals recovering consciousness than from CO2.

Publication Title Livestock Science
Volume 193
Pages 78-87
ISBN/ISSN 1871-1413
DOI 10.1016/j.livsci.2016.10.001
Language English
Author Address IRTA, Veinat de Sies s/n, Monells, 17121 Girona, Spain.antoni.dalmau@irta.es
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Tags
  1. Agriculture
  2. Animal physiology
  3. Animals
  4. Animal slaughter
  5. Animal welfare
  6. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  7. Biochemistry
  8. Brazil
  9. Carcasses
  10. Certification
  11. Countries
  12. Developed countries
  13. Developing countries
  14. Diseases
  15. Diseases and injuries of animals
  16. Efficacy
  17. Europe
  18. Feral animals
  19. Finland
  20. Food science
  21. Heart
  22. Infections
  23. Inflammation
  24. Italy
  25. Lameness
  26. Languages
  27. Lesions
  28. Liver
  29. Mammals
  30. Meat animals
  31. Meat production
  32. Mediterranean region
  33. mortality
  34. OECD countries
  35. Parasites
  36. physiology
  37. Pigs
  38. Pneumonia
  39. Portugal
  40. Science
  41. skin
  42. skin lesions
  43. slaughter
  44. slaughterhouses
  45. South America
  46. Spain
  47. stunning
  48. Suiformes
  49. thermoregulation
  50. Threshold Countries
  51. ungulates
  52. United States of America
  53. vertebrates
  54. Veterinary sciences
  55. Wild animals
  56. Zoology