Evaluation of parameters for monitoring welfare during transport and lairage at the abattoir in pigs
New transport legislation and society demands may increase the need for a 'fast' method to assess animal welfare at the abattoir. The objective of this study was to identify valid and feasible parameters which could be easily assessed at slaughterline in pigs. Eight transports (4 'far'
and 4 'near' the abattoir) were evaluated using a questionnaire which included both animal-based and environment-based parameters. A 'welfare index' (WI) (0 = worst to 1 = best) was estimated for each transport based on the questionnaire. Lean and fat content, skin lesions, pH and electrical
conductivity (PQM) were measured in 120 or 60 pigs per transport. When pH > 6 the meat was considered dry, firm and dark (DFD) and when PQM > 9 μs meat was pale, soft and exudative (PSE). Odds ratio between welfare index and slaughterline recordings was estimated. Differences in WI
between the different transports were smaller than expected (WI ranged from 0.4 to 0.6). However, a significant relationship between higher percentage of DFD meat and lower welfare index (odds ratio: 2.25) was found. These results suggest that parameters like DFD meat could be used at the
abattoir to perform a 'snapshot' welfare evaluation.