Influence of season, distance and mixed loads on the physical and carcass integrity of pigs transported to slaughter

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To determine the influences of season, distance and multiple-farm loads on pigs transported to slaughter under Spanish commercial conditions, 496 journeys, involving 90,366 pigs, were analysed. Mortality, liveweight loss, transport yield, killing out percentage, carcass yield after overnight chilling and percentage of condemned and trimmed carcasses were recorded. Season significantly affected killing out percentage and trimmed carcasses, with the lowest values found in autumn and summer, respectively. Distance significantly affected liveweight loss and transport yield. Loads composed of pigs from a number of farms had more deaths and carcass problems. It can be concluded that, under Spanish climatic conditions, if journey planning and handling at loading are adequately performed, season and distance do not impair the welfare of slaughter pigs. On the other hand, loading at a number of farms, alone, or interacting with distance, can compromise pig welfare.