Effects of road type during transport on lamb welfare and meat quality in dry hot climates

Document Type


Publication Date



This study determined whether transporting lambs on paved (PR) or unpaved roads (UR) for 3 h had an effect on plasma stress indicators (cortisol, lactate, glucose, creatine kinase [CK], red blood cells, white blood cells, hematocrit, and neutrophil/lymphocyte [N/L] ratio) and instrumental meat quality (pH24, bruising score, water holding capacity [WHC], color, and texture). A total of 48 Rasa Aragonesa male lambs were used that were approximately 100 days old (12.5 kg ± 1.64, carcass weight). The results suggest that transport on unpaved roads had a significant influence on physiological and hematological stress parameters. Road type had a significant effect on all variables, except for white and red blood cells, and hematocrit levels. The UR lambs had significantly higher (at least p ≤ 0.01) cortisol, lactate, glucose, and CK levels and a higher N/L ratio than PR lambs. Meat from UR lambs had some dark-cutting characteristics, with a darker color, higher ultimate pH, and higher tenderness values than PR. In conclusion, lambs transported on unpaved roads had a more intense stress response and poorer meat quality than lambs transported on paved roads. An effort to improve the logistics associated with route planning is necessary to prevent welfare problems during transport to slaughter.