Transportation of beef cattle to the slaughterhouse: Relation between methods of loading and unloading, carcass bruising and animal welfare.
MetadataShow full item record
In Uruguay, the extensive production of beef is a substantial part of the economy and culture. In this extensive production system the transport of beef cattle to the slaughterhouse compromises animal welfare. The objective of this study is to evaluate animal welfare by assessing transport conditions and relate these to carcass bruising. In this study, 243 trucks with in total 8.132 animals were assessed on loading, transport, unloading conditions and carcass bruising. The average time loading took was 0:24:53 minutes and the perception of the truck driver was correlated with the time loading took and the use of devices. The average time unloading took was 0:05:54 (± 0:03:54) minutes with a significant difference in mean time for the use of devices; only flag 0:03:51 (±0:01:46), cattle prod 0:06:43 (±0:04:22) and sticks 0:08:09 (±0:05:55). Of the carcasses observed, 772 (9,5%) had no bruises, 873 (10,7%) had one bruise, 1.312 (16,1%) had two bruises, 1.231 (15,1%) had three bruises and 3.944 (48,5%) had four or more bruises. The prevalence of the bruises was highest on the tuber coxea (29,3%) following the forequarter (22,4%), the tuber ischiadicum (17,3%), ribs/flank (14,1%), Rump/round (10,1%) and the loin (6,8%). A poisson prediction model was fitted to the data to predict the number of bruises on transports with the following parameters taken into account: Number of animals on transport, year of construction of the truck, category of animals, body condition score, animals with injuries, loading time, course of loading, journey length, parking at unloading, behaviour on and of the truck, number of people unloading, shouts used when unloading and the use of flags. Reducing physical and emotional stress during transport will both improve animal welfare en decrease economic losses due to carcass bruising.