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Welfare Measurements of Finishing Pigs on Day of Slaughter

21 February 2015

Animal welfare on the day of slaughter is of increasing concern to the authorities and consumers alike.

This creates a need not only to optimise the welfare of the animals but also to document the level of welfare.

The day of slaughter is composed of a variety of stages, initiated when the pigs leave the home pen.

Pig welfare is described at eight stages on the day of slaughter and includes pick-up facilities, transport, lairage, stunning and sticking.

A research team from Department of Animal Science, Aarhus University and the Danish Meat Research Institute looked at each of these stages and noted that the animals are exposed to different stressors that, both individually and in interaction with one another, can compromise welfare.

As part of the initial work aiming to document the welfare of finishing pigs on the day of slaughter, the researchers, Pia Brandt and Margit Dall Aaslyng provided an overview of the individual stages including a discussion of potential stressors and potential welfare measurements.

They said that behavioural observations are useful for welfare assessment but not for continuous documentation of welfare.

The research discusses the measurements with regard to their relevance and suitability for documentation of animal welfare on the day of slaughter for development of on-site tools for continuous automatic monitoring of animal welfare.

The team added that automatic blood sampling and analyses may be beneficial for documentation and it said that vocalisation seems promising as an on-line indicator of welfare.

The research is published in the May issue of the journal Meat Science.

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January 2015

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