Recent hot summers in Europe have raised concerns about welfare in relation to transport of pigs at high environmental temperatures. In a review, EURCAW-Pigs addresses temperature control and space allowance in relation to the welfare of pigs during transport.
Major pig welfare issues during transport are heat stress and overcrowding. The review explains the welfare science related to these two topics in Council Regulation EC 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport and related operations. Indicators are mentioned that can help to identify welfare issues during official inspections and assess compliance. Finally, the review offers solutions for existing problems.
Welfare concerns and indicators
The welfare of animals during transport is for a significant part dependent on being able to i) thermoregulate effectively, including the ability to drink and to lose heat, and ii) have sufficient space to perform basic behaviours such as standing and lying in order to rest. For both areas, animal- and resource-based indicators are suggested to facilitate welfare inspections. These include: measuring the ambient temperature and humidity; panting; huddling; dog-style sitting, exhaustion, number of animals, body weight and available space.
The review gives examples of good practices and ends with considerations regarding the implementation of Council Regulation EC 1/2005, in particular related to thermoregulation during hot weather and space allowances for weaners and sows. EURCAW suggests these persistent concerns may be solved by making better use of available data (e.g. temperature logs, journey duration, stops for resting or loading/unloading, axle weights for loading density) and/or by considering the use of additional surveillance systems such as camera’s and other sensors inside the vehicle.
Suggestions for improvement
Official inspectors and experts from member states are invited to contact EURCAW-Pigs firstname.lastname@example.org with any suggestions, comments or questions about this review.
(Introphoto: Mette S. Herskin)