Farmscape for June 16, 2023
An animal welfare and handling specialist with Olymel suggests moving pigs in small groups and focussing on body position, point of balance and flight zones, especially when the weather gets hot, will making moving pigs less stressful on the pigs and the handlers.
“What You Need to Know About Warm Weather Transport” was the focus of the third installment of Sask Pork’s spring seminar series last week. Kevin Brooks, a production manager specializing in animal welfare and handling with Olymel in Humboldt, says the Trucker Quality Assurance program calls for warm weather procedures to be implemented at 27 degrees Celsius but, to provide an added safety margin, Olymel implements those protocols at 25 degrees.
As we all know hogs don’t have functional sweat glands and have a hard time cooling down so they need wind and air. Breeze is their main cooling mechanism so, as the weather gets warmer, we have to make sure we treat these animals in a way that will get them there with low stress so they’ll be comfortable for their trip and journey. Much like the pig, when it’s really hot, I so don’t like too work too hard so it becomes easier. It’s easier on the staff, it’s easy on the hog and even the transporter so we’re not sweating and working overly hard which reduces the stress on us and the animal. They tend to load a lot better and the pigs are much happier as well so it’s kind of a win all around. With hogs there’s a few key things we’ve got to remember. One is bad depth perception so we’ve got to make sure we’ve got a smooth transition to the trailers, things that won’t make them hesitant.
They’re also fearful of humans. They’re prey animals so we want to make sure we’re using our body position, point of balance and flight zones so the pigs are escaping us and going where we want them to go. It’s kind of like a little chess match but, at the end of the day, you’re making moves to make everyone successful.
Brooks acknowledges it’s easy to revert to the old school ways of handling pigs but keeping things simple will make things easier on everyone.
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