Effects of two transport systems on lamb welfare and meat quality

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The aim of this study was to analyse the effect of a direct transport system (DTS) versus transport with a logistic stopover system (TLS) on lamb welfare and meat quality at two seasons. A total of 96 lambs were sampled in a 2 × 2 × 2 factorial design, testing two transport systems and two seasons (summer and winter), with two replicates in each season. Significant interactions (P ≤ 0.05) between transport system and season in both welfare and meat quality were found. In general, lambs subjected to direct transport and logistic stopover during winter had a more intense stress response and poorer meat quality than lambs transported during summer. However, direct transport during the cold season seemed to be the most stressful, compared to the rest of the groups, which was reflected in significantly higher levels of cortisol, lactate, glucose, ratio of N/L, higher pH24 and darker and tougher meat.