Effects of handling on animals welfare during transport

Abstract: Transportation is a very complex event which compromises animal welfare and meat quality. Even though important research works have been reported related to animal transport and welfare, many questions are still remaining to be addressed, particularly on the effect of transport time, vibration and climatic conditions. The main objective of this thesis was to investigate the effects of handling and transport on animals' welfare. The main methodologies employed comprehensive field measurement to collect data, observations, video filming for behavioural study and modeling. The thesis is structured into 3 papers. Paper I focuses on the modelling the dynamic performance of heart rate during loading for transport. Paper II and III are dealing with vibration and effect of transport on welfare of cattle and pigs' respectively. The model developed to describe the heart rate performances fits and successfully simulates the heart rate. The heart rate increased rapidly from resting value to peak value and then remains under stress, partially under stress or fully (100%) recovered. The speed, road conditions and standing orientations of animals had effect on level of vibrations. In all road types and speeds, standing orientation of animals facing in driving direction generally exposed to higher horizontal and lateral vibrations than animal facing perpendicular to the driving direction. The three common resonance frequencies identified were 1.3, 5.1, and 12.6 Hz in the second peak at 23Hz in vertical direction on tarmac road at the speed of 85km/h. Cortisol concentration level elevated during short transport time and decreased with an increase of transport time. Highest and lowest glucose concentrations for winter and summer were at 8 h and 12 h transport time respectively. Concentrations of lactate and creatine kinase positively correlated with transport time. The pH24 values correlated with transport time during summer. Behaviours such as lying, sitting, rooting, smelling, panting, fighting, restlessness, change of position and vocalization correlated with transport time. The overall conclusion from the study was that transport and handling had significant effects on animal welfare. The model developed described well the dynamic response of heart rate of the animals during loading for transport.

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