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Effects of journey and lairage time on steers transported to slaughter in Chile

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Steers representative of the most common type, weight and conformation slaughtered in Chile were transported for either three or 16 hours and held in lairage for three, six, 12 or 24 hours. Measurements of liveweight, carcase weight, and the postmortem pH and colour of muscle were made to assess the economic and welfare effects of the different transport and lairage times. Compared with the short journey, the longer journey was associated with a mean (se) reduction in liveweight of 8.5 (2.8) kg, and there was a further decrease of 0.42 (0.18) kg for every hour that the animals were kept in lairage after 16 hours of transport, an increase in final muscle pH, a decrease in muscle luminosity and an increase in the proportion of carcases downgraded because they were classified as 'dark cutting The carcase weights also tended to be lower after the longer journey and after longer periods in lairage.
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The Veterinary Record, March 22, 2003 361
Papers & Articles
Effects of journey and lairage time on
steers transported to slaughter in Chile
C. Gallo, G. Lizondo, T. G. Knowles
Steers representative of the most common type, weight and conformation slaughtered in Chile were
transported for either three or 16 hours and held in lairage for three, six, 12 or 24 hours. Measurements of
liveweight, carcase weight, and the postmortem pH and colour of muscle were made to assess the economic
and welfare effects of the different transport and lairage times. Compared with the short journey, the longer
journey was associated with a mean (se) reduction in liveweight of 8·5 (2·8) kg, and there was a further
decrease of 0·42 (0·18) kg for every hour that the animals were kept in lairage after 16 hours of transport, an
increase in final muscle pH, a decrease in muscle luminosity and an increase in the proportion of carcases
downgraded because they were classified as ‘dark cutting’. The carcase weights also tended to be lower after
the longer journey and after longer periods in lairage.
IN Chile, cattle generally undergo a long road journey to
slaughter because, while animal production takes place all
over the country, most of the slaughterhouses are situated in
the capital, Santiago, where the majority of the population live
(Gallo and others 1995, Matic 1997). National regulations
Veterinary Record (2003)
152, 361-364
C. Gallo, MV, PhD,
G. Lizondo, MV,
Instituto de Ciencia y
Tecnología de Carnes,
Facultad de Ciencias
Veterinarias, Universidad
Austral de Chile, Casilla
567, Valdivia, Chile
T. G. Knowles, BSc, MSc,
PhD,
School of Veterinary
Science, University of
Bristol, Langford, Bristol
BS40 5DU
limit the journey time to 24 hours without a break (Anon
1993a), but this limit is frequently exceeded (Gallo and oth-
ers 1995), so that animals are often deprived of food and water
for long periods. According to Chilean national regulations
(Anon 1994a), after the animals arrive at the slaughterhouse
362 The Veterinary Record, March 22, 2003
they have to remain in lairage for at least 12 hours before they
are slaughtered, during which time they have access to water
but not to food. The lairage time can be reduced if recom-
mended by a veterinary inspector.
A minimum time in lairage was originally written into
the legislation to allow cattle to recover from the stress of
transport, to facilitate their evisceration and to reduce the
potential for the contamination of the carcase with gut con-
tents (Forrest and others 1979). However, animals are
deprived of food not only during lairage, but from the
moment they are taken out of the fields to be loaded. Gallo
and others (1995) found that in the case of steers produced
in the 10th Region (the main production area), the animals
mean waiting time on the farm before they were loaded was
two hours, the mean duration of the journey was 24 hours
and the mean period in lairage at the slaughterhouse was 29
hours, adding up to a total of 55 hours without food. The
main town in the 10th Region is Puerto Montt, 1000 km
from Santiago, and the average distance from the 10th
Region to Santiago is 850 km.
A lack of food and water reduces an animal’s liveweight
mainly through the loss of faeces, urine and dehydration, but
there is also a reduction in carcase weight (Gallo and Gatica
1995, Knowles 1999). Transport, handling and lairage before
slaughter can also adversely affect other characteristics of the
carcase, such as its pH, colour, texture and water-holding
capacity (Warriss 1990). The pH influences the colour, tex-
ture, flavour, water-holding capacity and shelf-life of the meat
(Hofmann 1988). The final colour of meat is the most impor-
tant characteristic considered by Chilean consumers in their
decision to buy (Narbona 1995).
The animal welfare implications of prolonged periods
without food and water are important and have been
discussed by Grandin (2000). However, on a global scale
economic considerations are often placed before the welfare
of animals. This paper describes an investigation into the
economic losses associated with the long journeys made
by cattle in Chile, to provide a basis for the improvement
of the animals welfare and an improvement in animal pro-
duction.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
The study was carried out in Valdivia, Chile, in summer,
between December 1999 and January 2000, in collaboration
with a local slaughter plant. Eighty castrated male Friesian
cattle were used; they were representative of the most
common age at slaughter in Chile (one-and-a-half to two
years), with up to two permanent incisors by dental chrono-
metry classification (Anon 1994b), with a mean (sd) weight
of 450 (25) kg and similar ‘light’ fat cover according to the
national classification scheme (Anon 1993b) (Gallo and
others 1999). They had been produced by one farmer and
fattened under similar conditions, mainly on natural
improved pasture.
Groups of 10 animals were kept in lairage at the slaugh-
terhouse for three, six, 12 or 24 hours, after journeys lasting
three or 16 hours. During the journeys they were kept at a
stocking density of 500 kg/m
2
. The journeys of different
length were made on different days by the same lorry, but the
days were selected to be as similar as possible, to avoid con-
founding the effects of day and transport time. The lorry had
a rigid body and was of the type most commonly used in
Chile. These allow 40 steers to be carried at the highest per-
missible stocking density (500 kg/m
2
), with 18 animals in the
rigid body and 22 in a trailer. On the short journey, the steers
travelled directly from the farm to the slaughterhouse, a dis-
tance of approximately 200 km, but on the long journey they
travelled approximately 710 km within the region to simulate
a journey from Valdivia to Santiago. In both cases, the same
type of road was used and the ambient temperature during
both journeys varied between 5°C and 22°C, with occasional
light precipitation. The steers were weighed before they were
loaded at the farm, when they arrived at the slaughterhouse
and before they were slaughtered. During the period of
lairage, water but no feed was provided. Hot carcase weight
was also recorded. The pH and colour of muscle were mea-
sured on the longissimus thoracis muscle, cut at the level of
the ninth rib, 24 hours after slaughter. Carcases with a final
pH of 5·8 and above were classified as dark cutting (Schöebitz
1998). Carcases determined by the slaughterhouses own sub-
jective, visual method of assessment to be dark cutting were
also recorded. The colour was measured with a colorimeter
(Miniscan
XE Plus; Hunter Lab) using the L, a, b scale (Warriss
1996). Three measurements were made on each carcase and
the mean value was used in the analysis.
Statistical analysis
The data were analysed by fitting univariate general linear
models with the statistics package
SPSS 11.0 (SPSS) running on
Windows
XP Professional (Microsoft). The two journey times
were treated as fixed factors, and the lairage time was treated
as a covariate. The liveweights before slaughter and the car-
case weights were adjusted by including the pre-transport
liveweight as a covariate in the models. Associations between
transport time, lairage time and the number of dark cutting
carcases were analysed by cross-tabulation and exact statis-
tics, using
SPSS 11.0.
RESULTS
The changes in the mean (se) liveweights of the animals at
slaughter after the different periods in lairage and after the
two journeys are shown in Fig 1. After a journey lasting 16
hours, the steers had a significantly lower liveweight
(P=0·004), and increasing their time in lairage led to further
loss of liveweight (P=0·019). Their mean (se) liveweight was
8·5 (2·8) kg lower after the 16-hour journey than after the
three-hour journey, and it decreased by a further 0·42 (0·18)
kg for each hour they were kept in lairage. The mean (se) car-
case weight was 3·03 (1·57) kg lower than that of the animals
transported for three hours (P=0·056) (Fig 2), and there was
a trend for their carcase weight to decrease with increased
time in lairage (P=0·28) by 0·10 (0·09) kg for each hour in
lairage.
Although the significance of the effects on carcase weight
were marginal, the significant effects of the treatments on
liveweight indicate that they are likely to have been real effects.
Papers & Articles
440
435
430
425
420
415
410
405
400
1002030
Lairage time (hours)
Liveweight at slaughter (kg)
Three hours
16 hours
FIG 1: Mean (se)
liveweights at slaughter
of groups of 10 steers
transported for three
hours or 16 hours and
kept in lairage for three,
six, 12 or 24 hours
The Veterinary Record, March 22, 2003 363
Furthermore, the magnitude of the effects were in general
agreement, giving confidence in the estimates.
The changes in muscle pH and luminosity at 24 hours
after slaughter are shown in Fig 3 and Fig 4, respectively. The
mean (se) pH of the muscle of the animals transported for 16
hours was 0·236 (0·072) higher than that of the animals trans-
ported for three hours (P=0·002), and the pH of the muscle
of both groups increased by 0·013 (0·004) for each hour they
were kept in lairage (P=0·006). The muscle luminosity of
the animals transported for 16 hours was 2·39 (0·61) units
(P=0·004) lower than that of the animals transported for
three hours, and in both groups the muscle luminosity
decreased by 0·089 (0·038) units for each hour they were kept
in lairage (P=0·023). There were no apparent interaction
effects between journey time and lairage time for any of the
variables studied.
The numbers of animals in each group which were
classified as dark cutting by the slaughterhouse and by their
muscle pH are shown in Table 1. There was a significant asso-
ciation between the time in lairage and the number of car-
cases classified as dark cutting by the slaughterhouse’s method
(P=0·013) and by their pH (P=0·048). Longer periods in
lairage were associated with an increase in the number of car-
cases classified as dark cutting. There was a significant asso-
ciation between the number of dark cutting carcases and the
journey time when the carcases were classified by pH
(P=0·001), but not when they were classified by the slaugh-
terhouse (P=0·300). However, in both cases there were more
dark cutting carcases among the steers transported for 16
hours.
DISCUSSION
The results of this study show that there was a marked reduc-
tion in the carcase quality of the steers transported for 16
hours, and further reductions after longer periods in lairage.
The increase in the number of carcases classified as dark cut-
ting would have been of substantial economic importance.
A carcase classified as dark cutting results in an approximately
10 per cent reduction in the value of the carcase and this loss
is borne by the slaughterhouse. The results also indicate that
the greater loss of carcase weight after the longer journey and
after longer periods in lairage would also have been of eco-
nomic importance. Farmers are paid on the basis of carcase
weight and this loss is therefore borne by the farmer rather
than the slaughterhouse. In addition, the increases in muscle
pH and the losses of liveweight indicate that the longer jour-
ney and longer periods in lairage had adverse effects on the
animals’ welfare.
The colour of meat is influenced by the level of muscle
glycogen before slaughter, which also affects the decrease in
pH postmortem and the final pH, which is reached approxi-
mately 24 hours after slaughter (Warriss 1990). Lack of food
before slaughter decreases muscle glycogen levels, and the
longer the period without food the lower the level of muscle
glycogen becomes. This effect is accelerated when the muscle
glycogen level is further depleted when the muscle is required
to do work (Sanz and others 1996). Muscle low in glycogen at
slaughter will have a higher pH and be darker in colour (Wirth
1987). Thus, muscle with a high pH and low luminosity indi-
cates that the animal has been deprived of food and/or was
physically exhausted when it was slaughtered. Meat with these
characteristics will be less visually acceptable to consumers and
Papers & Articles
Transport Lairage time (hours)
time 3 6 12 24
3 hours Normal 9* (10)
9* (9)
8* (7)
5* (6)
Dark cutting 1* (0)
1* (1)
2* (3)
5* (4)
16 hours Normal 7* (9)
5* (7)
1* (7)
2* (6)
Dark cutting 3* (1)
5* (3)
9* (3)
8* (4)
* Classified in terms of the pH of the longissimus thoracis muscle
Classified subjectively by the slaughterhouse
TABLE 1: Numbers of dark cutting and normal carcases in
groups of 10 steers transported for either three or 16 hours and
kept in lairage for three, six, 12 or 24 hours
FIG 2: Mean (se) carcase
weights of groups of 10
steers transported for
three hours or 16 hours
and kept in lairage for
three, six, 12 or 24
hours
240
238
236
234
232
230
228
226
Carcase weight (kg)
0 5 10 15 20 25
Lairage time (hours)
Three hours
16 hours
FIG 3: Mean (se) pH
of the longissimus
thoracis muscle 24
hours after slaughter
of groups of 10 steers
transported for three
hours or 16 hours and
kept in lairage for three,
six, 12 or 24 hours
6·3
6·2
6·1
6·0
5·9
5·8
5·7
5·6
5·5
5·4
0 5 10 15 20 25
Lairage time (hours)
Muscle pH
Three hours
16 hours
FIG 4: Mean (se) luminosity of the longissimus thoracis
muscle 24 hours after slaughter of groups of 10 steers
transported for three hours or 16 hours and kept in lairage
for three, six, 12 or 24 hours
20
29
28
27
26
25
24
23
22
21
20
010 30
Luminosity (units)
Laira
g
e time
(
hours
)
Three hours
16 hours
364 The Veterinary Record, March 22, 2003
(c) British Veterinary Association. All rights reserved
is also more prone to microbial spoilage (Brown and others
1990, Narbona 1995, Warriss 2000).
According to Hood and Tarrant (1980), Brown and others
(1990) and Scanga and others (1998), increased aggressive
social interactions, such as mounting and butting, can result
in carcases with a high pH. It is important to avoid these detri-
mental factors when animals are being transported, even on
short journeys, and when they are in lairage. In this study the
animals were familiar with each other and aggressive social
interactions would have been minimal.
The number of dark cutting carcases increased with increas-
ing lairage time after both the short and long journeys,in agree-
ment with previous findings (Hood and Tarrant 1980, Palma
and Gallo 1991). The longissimus thoracis is the muscle in
which a high pH is most commonly detected (Warriss and oth-
ers 1984) and it is significant that in Chile the whole carcase is
downgraded when the problem is detected in that muscle alone.
The steers were representative of the most common age,
breed, weight, fat cover and carcase grade of steers slaughtered
in Chile (Gallo and others 1999). In the
UK, Warriss and oth-
ers (1995) and Knowles and others (1999) have also observed
that animals lost more liveweight after long journeys, but the
losses were not as great as in the present study; there was a loss
of 4·6 per cent after a five-hour journey and losses of 6·5 and
7·0 per cent after journeys of 10 and 15 hours. The losses
reported here were similar to previous findings in Chile
(Gallo and others 2000, 2001) of 4·6 to 6·5 per cent after three
hours, 6·0 to 8·9 per cent after 12 hours and 10·5 to 11·9 per
cent after 24 hours. The differences between the countries
may be due to differences in rearing and feeding conditions,
breed, age, fatness, climatic conditions and, especially, trans-
port conditions (Wythes and others 1981, Tarrant and oth-
ers 1992, Warriss and others 1995, Knowles and others 1999).
Warriss (1990) observed that the effects of lack of food on
carcase weight were less well defined than its effect on
liveweight, and a similar result was observed in this study. A
journey lasting 16 hours rather than three hours led to a reduc-
tion in carcase weight of approximately 3 kg and then for every
hour in lairage, regardless of the length of the journey, there
was a trend for a loss of 0·1 kg of carcase weight per hour. The
results shown in Fig 2 suggest that there was an increase in the
carcase weight of the animals kept between six and 16 hours
in lairage, possibly as they recovered to some extent when they
were able to drink, but the increase was superimposed on the
decrease in carcase weight due to lack of food.
The four lairage times (three, six, 12 and 24 hours) were
representative of the most common periods for which ani-
mals are likely to be held in lairage after being transported
either to a regional slaughterhouse or to the main slaughter-
houses in Santiago, the journeys to these slaughterhouses
being represented by the three-hour and 16-hour journeys.
The results indicate that from an economic point of view and
for the welfare of the animals, journey times and times in
lairage should be as short as possible; they suggest that there
is a strong case for slaughtering animals as soon as possible
after they arrive at the slaughterhouse.
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... In ruminants, the duration of pre-slaughter fasting, along with transportation and lairage, can be extend to 48 h or more (Knowles 1999;Arik and Karaca 2017), but typically ranges from 12 to 24 h (Ferguson et al. 2007). Lairage period varies greatly, and the effects on animal welfare and on carcass and meat quality are one of the most discussed aspects of beef cattle production (Gallo et al. 2003;Ferguson and Warner 2008;Díaz et al. 2014). ...
... Cattle are deprived of feed not only during lairage, but also from the time they are taken out of the paddocks to be loaded on the trucks (Gallo et al. 2003). We conducted this study to test the hypothesis that a reduction of the pre-slaughter fasting period will decrease the weight loss, improve carcass and meat quality and physiological parameters in beef cattle. ...
... Literature indicates that ultimate pH is the key to quality beef and that many aspects can contribute, especially handling during preslaughter (Warriss 1990;Ferguson and Warner 2008;Mounier et al. 2006). Changes in the social structure (Warriss et al., 1984;Jones et al. 1990), long distances (more than 300 km; Arik and Karaca 2017), and long transportation duration (more than 16 h; Gallo et al. 2003;Amtmann et al. 2006) are some handling examples which could affect meat pH; pre-slaughter conditions that did not happen in the present study. It is widely known the relationship between muscle glycogen and pH, for meat acidification, and on beef quality (Warris, 1990;Amtmann et al. 2006). ...
Article
Pre-slaughter fasting duration affect blood parameters related to stress and metabolism, decrease live and carcass weights and impact beef quality of cattle. In three experiments, 1100 steers and heifers, finished on feedlot or on pasture, were evaluated to assess the influence of the site and duration of fasting before slaughter on physiological, carcass and meat quality traits. Cattle were allocated to one of two fasting duration - long (23–29 h) or short (2–6 h) – and to one of two sites of fasting– farm or abattoir. All animals had access to water ad libitum until slaughter, except during transportation. Cattle were assigned to two (long fasting on abattoir/normal lairage time, short fasting/minimal lairage time) or three (long fasting on abattoir/normal lairage time, short fasting on farm/minimal lairage time, long fasting on farm/minimal lairage time) treatments. Seventeen slaughters were considered in a randomized complete block design. There was no effect of the site of fasting on any variable. Cattle with short fasting duration had higher carcass weights and water consumption than those under long fasting duration. Haematocrit, globulin, total protein, and lactate dehydrogenase at the time of slaughter increased with fasting duration. There was no effect of the duration of fasting on blood ions, meat quality traits, urine pH, liver weight and volume, and skin dry matter. A reduction in the fasting duration returned to farmers and abattoirs 1.2% additional kilograms of carcass, suggesting an improvement in animal welfare according to a better hydration level of cattle at the time of slaughter.
... In ruminants, the duration of pre-slaughter fasting, along with transportation and lairage, can be extend to 48 h or more (Knowles 1999;Arik and Karaca 2017), but typically ranges from 12 to 24 h (Ferguson et al. 2007). Lairage period varies greatly, and the effects on animal welfare and on carcass and meat quality are one of the most discussed aspects of beef cattle production (Gallo et al. 2003;Ferguson and Warner 2008;Díaz et al. 2014). ...
... Cattle are deprived of feed not only during lairage, but also from the time they are taken out of the paddocks to be loaded on the trucks (Gallo et al. 2003). We conducted this study to test the hypothesis that a reduction of the pre-slaughter fasting period will decrease the weight loss, improve carcass and meat quality and physiological parameters in beef cattle. ...
... Literature indicates that ultimate pH is the key to quality beef and that many aspects can contribute, especially handling during preslaughter (Warriss 1990;Ferguson and Warner 2008;Mounier et al. 2006). Changes in the social structure (Warriss et al., 1984;Jones et al. 1990), long distances (more than 300 km; Arik and Karaca 2017), and long transportation duration (more than 16 h; Gallo et al. 2003;Amtmann et al. 2006) are some handling examples which could affect meat pH; pre-slaughter conditions that did not happen in the present study. It is widely known the relationship between muscle glycogen and pH, for meat acidification, and on beef quality (Warris, 1990;Amtmann et al. 2006). ...
... Physical contact leads to interaction and a risk of fighting between animals [18]. Other significant factors affecting the occurrence of injuries are stocking density, style of driving and duration of the journey [19][20][21]. The stocking density should be neither too high nor too low, since even a larger space may lead to injuries among animals as a consequence of trampling, aggressive clashes or falls resulting from sudden acceleration or deceleration of the vehicle [22]. ...
... A smooth ride and the correct handling of animals, in contrast, reduces the risk of injuries occurring to animals during transport [24]. Traumatic lesions resulting from transport were documented by many studies [20,25,26]. Dalla Costa et al. [27] found that loading, transport, unloading and lairage at the slaughterhouse doubled the original number of skin lesions in pigs (from 29% to 62%). ...
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The welfare of cattle, pigs, sheep and goats was assessed by measuring trauma detected during veterinary postmortem inspection at slaughterhouses. The subject of this evaluation were all bovine, porcine, ovine and caprine animals slaughtered at Czech slaughterhouses in the monitored period, i.e., a total of 1,136,754 cows, 257,912 heifers, 1,015,541 bulls, 104,459 calves, 586,245 sows, 25,027,303 finisher pigs, 123,191 piglets, 22,815 ewes, 114,264 lambs, 1348 does and 5778 kids. The data on the numbers of traumatic findings were obtained retrospectively from a national veterinary database collecting data from slaughterhouse postmortem examinations. The results showed that findings of trauma were observed at a low frequency in the studied species. Injuries were detected most frequently in cows (1.71%). In contrast, no findings associated with the presence of trauma were recorded in does and kids. From the viewpoint of trauma localization, findings on the limbs were more frequent than findings on the body (p < 0.01). The only exceptions to this were lambs, does and kids, for which there was no statistically significant difference between findings on the limbs and the body (p = 1.00). The results show that housing system (bedding, the presence of slats, floor hardness), transport of animals to the slaughterhouse (moving animals to the vehicle, loading ramps, floors in transport vehicles and the transport of animals itself) and design of the slaughterhouse (unloading ramps, passageways and slaughterhouse floors) have a greater impact on the limbs than the bodies of animals in the majority of species. A difference was also demonstrated in the occurrence of findings of trauma in the limbs and body (p < 0.01) between culled adult animals and fattened animals, namely in cattle and pigs. A difference (p < 0.01) between ewes and lambs was found only in the occurrence of traumatic injury to the limbs. The results showed that fattened animals are affected by the risk of trauma to a lesser extent than both culled adult animals and young animals. Statistically significant differences (p < 0.01) were also found between the studied species and categories of animals. The category most affected from the viewpoint of injury both to the limbs and body was cows. In contrast to cows that are typically reared indoors, the low frequency of traumatic findings was found in small ruminants and in bulls, i.e., animals typically reared outdoors. Assumedly, access to pasture may be beneficial considering the risk of traumatic injury.
... Final pH depends on the glycogen reserves contained in the skeletal muscle, which highly depends on the stress of the animal prior to slaughter. It is known that the longer the transport and waiting times for the animals to be slaughtered, the higher the probability of obtaining dark cuts of meat, due to the energy expenditure involved [45]. In our study, the long period that animals remained in the slaughterhouse pens could have influenced results [44,45]. ...
... It is known that the longer the transport and waiting times for the animals to be slaughtered, the higher the probability of obtaining dark cuts of meat, due to the energy expenditure involved [45]. In our study, the long period that animals remained in the slaughterhouse pens could have influenced results [44,45]. Our work did not evaluate the difference in pH between immunocastrated and whole bulls, but others have reported that vaccination does not affect pH [29,32,46]. ...
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Castration by surgical techniques is common in livestock; however, post-surgery complications and concerns for animal wellbeing have created a need for new non-invasive alternatives. The objective of this study was to evaluate immunocastration in bulls using antigen GnRX G/Q; a recombinant peptide proved to be effective in laboratory and companion animals. A nine-month trial with 80 9-month-old Normand x Hereford bulls, kept in a pastured system, was conducted. The herd was divided in half with 40 bulls surgically castrated (SC) and 40 castrated by immunization against GnRH (IC). The antigen was injected on days 0 and 40 of the experiment. After the second dose, the IC group had elevated GnRH antibodies and decreased testosterone levels (below 5 ng/mL) that were maintained for 23 weeks. At slaughter on day 190, the immunocastrated group obtained a higher weight, hot carcass, and dressing percentage than the SC group. There was no difference in pH, color of meat, fat coverage, cooking loss, or tenderness between groups. The bulls showed no inflammatory reaction at the injection site or adverse side effects from the vaccine. Our results demonstrate that immunocastration with GnRX G/Q is an efficient and safe alternative to surgical castration in livestock. Additional work evaluating antigen effects over a longer period is needed to validate commercial viability.
... Liu et al. 9 13 investigated the effect of transport and lairage time on steers. The steers were transported by road to slaughterhouse for 3 h, and held in lairage for 3 h. ...
... Various studies have extensively documented the adverse effects of pre-slaughter stress on the tenderness of meat (due to its high pH which impacts the tenderness of meat at 1 to 2 days of post mortem aging) ( Table 1) (Gruber et al., 2010;O'Neill et al., 2006;Warner et al., 2007) as well as flavor and juiciness (Hemsworth et al., 2011). Furthermore, a high pH of meat from stressed animals is also prone to induce fast growth of microorganisms, and therefore, the beef is characterized by increased formation of off-odors and a slimy surface (Gallo et al., 2003;Gardner et al., 2001) and even decreased palatability (Viljoen et al., 2002). Stress also reduces the positive effect of aging on meat tenderness (Ouali et al., 2006). ...
Article
Eating quality is one of the most important traits by which consumers evaluate satisfaction and make decisions on future beef purchases. Unfortunately, the beef on the market is of inconsistent quality. Therefore, meat producers supplying beef of good and consistent quality would be more competitive in the beef market. The main attributes of eating quality are flavor, juiciness, tenderness, and overall liking. Beef eating quality is an intrinsic quality trait, which depends on both pre- and post-slaughter factors. In this review, we attempt to describe the impact of the major factors determining beef eating quality throughout the production chain such as: breed, farming systems, animal welfare, electrical stimulation, carcass suspension methods, chilling process associated with pH drop and ageing methods. As part of this review, some the effects were extracted and summarized to give an overview of the magnitude of the effects and to understand which effects have the greatest impact.
... After fattening, bovines are transported for slaughter. Transport can be stressful for the animals, affecting their well-being (Romero et al., 2010;Van De Water et al., 2003), which manifests in the meat, like an increase in pH (Gallo et al., 1998), decrease in muscle luminosity (Gallo et al., 2003), and presence of lesions when using inappropriate vehicles (Huertas et al., 2010). All these represent economic losses for the meat industry (Mach et al., 2008). ...
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Objective: To review how transport and stunning of cattle affect animal welfare. Approach: During the transport of beef cattle to slaughter plants, several factors affect animal welfare, such as travel time, stress, and load density. Additionally, the correct stunning of cattle helps comply with the animal welfare guidelines established by different protocols such as Welfare Quality®. Study limitations/Implications: Meat quality is affected by several factors, being of utmost importance the way animals are transported to the slaughterhouse, and they are stunned. Therefore, it is critical to perform these stages properly to obtain good quality meat; besides, it is a welfare issue. Conclusions: It is critical to comply with transport and slaughter procedures that guarantee good beef meat quality and ensure animal welfare to avoid stress in cattle as possible.
... Several authors sustain that the time in lairage brings about several positive benefits and potentially allows cattle to replenish muscle glycogen concentrations, reduce the dehydration of body tissues and carcass weight loss and to rest and recover from the effects of transport [14][15][16][17][18][19]. Other authors have reported that the lairage environment itself may inhibit the ability of cattle to rest or recover from the effects of feed and water restriction [20][21][22][23]. These varying results should be expected, given the multifactorial characters of these traits, leading the different study designs (preloading fasting at the farm, transport distance and transport time and lairage conditions) to produce different outcomes [14]. ...
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The objective of this experiment was to evaluate the effect of two different pasture-based finishing strategies and lairage time on steers welfare in Uruguayan conditions. Sixty Hereford (H) and Braford (B) steers were assigned to two different diets for finishing purposes: (D1) native pasture plus corn grain (1% of live weight) (H n = 15, B n = 15) and (D2) high-quality pasture (H n = 15, B n = 15). The average daily gain was registered every 14 days, and temperaments were individually assessed one week before slaughter by three individual tests: crush score, flight time and exit speed, building a multicriterial temperament index (TIndex). Animals were slaughtered the same day in two groups (50% from D1 and 50% from D2 in each group) after traveling for 3.5 h and staying 15 (long lairage) and 3 h (short lairage) in the lairage pens, respectively. The behaviors were observed during lairage, and physiological indicators were used to assess stress at the farm after transport, after lairage and at slaughter. Bruises incidence and final pH were registered at the abattoir as a means of assessing the overall animal welfare. Calmer animals had higher average daily gains with no differences either between diets or between breeds. Calmer animals also had a lower stress response during all preslaughter stages, regardless of the time in lairage. Transport did not imply psychological stress (cortisol) for any slaughter group, but physical stress was evident after transport in both groups through NEFA and CPK increases. Bruise incidences did not differ between lairage groups. The short lairage group did not have enough time to cope with the environment before slaughter, with the consequent deleterious effects on the carcass pH. Animals from the long lairage group had a higher metabolic response shown through NEFA values, but they had enough time to rest and recover overnight, reaching final pH values lower than 5.8, considered the upper limit of the normal range. According to this experiment, with pasture-based animals without fasting on the farm and after 3.5 h of transportation, a resting period of 15 h in lairage should be better than a 3-h one.
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The present study describes the characteristics of 114.666 cattle slaughtered during 1994 in the 22 slaughterhouses functioning within the Xth Region and the corresponding carcasses produced according to the terms of the official chilean standards for cattle classification and carcass grading. The following distribution of classes was found, based on age by dental chronometry (only milk teeth present=DL, levelled central milk teeth=DL*, number of permanent incisors present=2-8D, presence of levelled permanent second medials=8D*) and sex: 40.3% of young steers (DL* or 2D); 16.1% of heifers (DL* or 2D), 1.5% of young bulls (DL*), 10.6% of steers (4-6D), 7.6% of young cows (4-6D), 9.0% of adult cows (8D), 6.1% of old cows (8D*), 0.0% of bulls castrated as adults (2-8D*), 2.4% of bulls (2-8D*), 4.2% of oxen (8D or 8D*) and 2.2% of calves (DL). The distribution of the carcasses within the official grading categories (V-A-C-U-N-O) was as follows: V = 55.9%, A = 12.7%, C = 4.6%, U = 15.2%, N = 10.4% and O = 1.2%. The proportion of carcasses falling into grades 0 (none), 1 (light), 2 (abundant) and 3 (excess ) of subcutaneous fat cover was 10.1%, 78.3%, 10.2% and 1.4%, respectively. Some 7.7% of carcasses presented a degree of bruising; of the latter, 4.8% were classified as degree 1 (affecting only subcutaneous tissues), 2.1% as degree 2 (affecting subcutaneous and muscular tissue) and 0.8% as degree 3 (affecting also bone). It was concluded that within the Xth Region, predominantly young cattle are slaughtered, especially young steers and heifers, producing carcasses with a light fat cover and graded as V. Only a small proportion of carcasses presented bruising serious enough (degree 2 or 3) to degrade the carcasses.
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The effects of a resting period in cattle transported by road for 36 hours, on live weight changes, carcass yield, bruising, ph and colour of the meat postmortem were determined. Data on the behaviour of the cattle during transport were also recorded. The experiment was carried out with 40 Hereford and Angus steers and heifers produced by one farmer, of similar age, weight and fat cover. The experimental design consisted of random complete blocks according to live weight and sex, assigning 10 steers and 10 heifers to two treatment: long distance transport with (n=20) and without a resting period (n=20); the group without a resting period was transported from the farm to the slaughterhouse continuously by road for 36 hours; the other group was submitted to a resting period of 8 hours (offering water and hay ad libitum) after a journey of 24 hours and then completed 12 additional hours on the road after resting. Two lorries of similar structure were used and both groups, one in each lorry, left at the same time from the farm; a stocking density of 500 kg live weight per 1m² was used. Descriptive statistics and analysis of variance were used to compare treatments with and without resting, and Tukey test to establish significancy of the differences, at a 5% level. The most frequent orientations adopted by the cattle were perpendicular and parallel to the direction of the movement. Three fallen animals were found in the group without a resting period, and none in the rested animals. Both treatments had similar weight losses during transport, but animals without a rest gained 2.2 kg during resting at the slaughterhouse whilst rested animals continued losing weight (3.5 kg). Total mean losses were 10.6% in the rested and 9.6% in not rested animals (P0.05). No differences were found in terms of hot carcass weight and proportional yield respect to initial live weight on farm. The animals without a resting period had a higher number of and more severe bruises. The mean pH was high in both groups (5.8=with; 5.8=without rest) and the colour of muscle postmortem, as measured objectively (Hunterlab) was not affected by resting (P0.05). However, more carcasses of cattle without a rest period showed pH values higher than 6.0 (5 vs 3) and three were found to be dark cutters in the same group. It is concluded that transport of cattle by lorry for 36 hours affects negatively the quality of meat produced and that a rest stop along these journeys improves aspects such as less fallen animals, less bruising and less dark cutters, but had no effect in terms of live and carcass weight losses
Article
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The present study describes the characteristics of 114.666 cattle slaughtered during 1994 in the 22 slaughterhouses functioning within the Xth Region and the corresponding carcasses produced according to the terms of the official chilean standards for cattle classification and carcass grading. The following distribution of classes was found, based on age by dental chronometry (only milk teeth present=DL, levelled central milk teeth=DL*, number of permanent incisors present=2-8D, presence of levelled permanent second medials=8D*) and sex: 40.3% of young steers (DL* or 2D); 16.1% of heifers (DL* or 2D), 1.5% of young bulls (DL*); 10.6% of steers (4-6D); 7.6% of young cows (4-6D); 9.0% of adult cows (8D); 6.1% of old cows (8D*), 0.0% of bulls castrated as adults (2-8D*), 2.4% of bulls (2-8D*), 4.2% of oxen (8D or 8D*) and 2.2% of calves (DL). The distribution of the carcasses within the official grading categories (V-A-C-U-N-O) was as follows: V = 55.9%; A = 12.7%; C = 4.6%; U = 15.2%; N = 10.4% and O = 1.2%. The proportion of carcasses falling into grades 0 (none), 1(light), 2 (abundant) and 3 (excess ) of subcutaneous fat cover was 10.1%; 78.3%; 10.2% and 1.4%, respectively. Some 7.7% of carcasses presented a degree of bruising; of the latter, 4.8% were classified as degree 1 (affecting only subcutaneous tissues), 2.1% as degree 2 (affecting subcutaneous and muscular tissue) and 0.8% as degree 3 (affecting also bone). It was concluded that within the Xth Region, predominantly young cattle are slaughtered, especially young steers and heifers, producing carcasses with a light fat cover and graded as V. Only a small proportion of carcasses presented bruising serious enough (degree 2 or 3) to degrade the carcasses
Article
Almost all cattle are eventually slaughtered for meat. Because the slaughtering industry is becoming centralised into fewer, larger plants, marketing times have increased, particularly for animals sold through live auctions or those reared under extensive systems. During marketing, cattle are subjected to various stressors which elicit specific behavioural and physiological responses. Typical stress responses such as elevation of heart rate and body temperature and increased circulating corticosteroid levels are seen. The natural patterns of behaviour of cattle, particularly their following and herding instincts, can be exploited to facilitate handling. Increased use of young bulls for beef production in many countries has highlighted the importance of good design of handling facilities. Pre-slaughter handling can affect both carcass and meat quality. Losses in carcass yield are caused by both mobilisation of tissues to provide energy for maintaining the vital functions of the body and the dehydration which often accompanies the inevitable period of food and water deprivation together with the stress of transport. The size and onset of these losses are as yet poorly defined for cattle, possibly because of the large influence of variation in environmental conditions. Reported losses in yield after a 48 h fast range from < 1% to 8%. Transport leads to losses over and above those attributable to fasting; time, rather than distance, being the important factor. Bruising is frequently a large problem in extensively reared cattle unused to handling. Bruised tissue is trimmed, reducing yield as well as often leading to downgrading. The major influence of pre-slaughter handling on lean meat quality is through the potential effect on muscle glycogen stores. If depleted by chronic stress the extent of postmortem acidification is reduced leading to the production of dark cutting beef (DCB). This is prone to spoilage and has poor organoleptic qualities. The major cause of DCB is mixing unfamiliar animals promoting agonistic behaviour, particularly in young bulls. Pre-slaughter handling practices which encourage mixing therefore increase the incidence of DCB. Prolonged transport is also a factor and there appear to be seasonal influences although the reasons are unclear.
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Two experiments in Queensland in 1979 examined the ettect on liveweight, carcase weight, bruising and muscle pH of transporting cows 460,870 or 2055 km to three abattoirs for slaughter. Resting, feeding and watering procedures at the abattoirs were based on commercial practices in experiment 1, but were standardized in experiment 2. The effect of transportation alone was studied in experiment 1, by holding additional cattle at the nearest abattoir and slaughtering them on the same day as the group transported 2055 km. All cows came from the same property. The greatest losses in liveweight occurred before cows reached the first abattoir. In experiment 1, mean initial liveweight decreased from 439 to 398 kg for cows travelling 460 km and to 390 kg after 2055 km. In experiment 2, the decreases were 434 to 389 and 375 kg, respectively. It was concluded that time between mustering and slaughter had a greater effect on carcase weight than distance travelled. Between three and eight days after mustering in experiment 1, carcase weight decreased from 230 to 225 kg, whether cows were travelling or held at an abattoir. Between 4.5 and 11 d in experiment 2, the decrease was from 226 to 21 9 kg. Carcase bruising increased when travelling distance exceeded 460 km, but the increase was small relative to losses in carcase weiaht. The DH of M. longissimus dorsi 24 h post-mortem did not increase necessarily with distance travelled.
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Friesian steers were transported by road for 24 h at low, medium and high stocking density to assess the welfare and economic effects of long journeys. Plasma cortisol and glucose were elevated after transport (P < 0.01) particularly at high stocking density. The white blood cell count and neutrophil numbers increased (P < 0.001) and the numbers of lymphocytes and eosinophils decreased (P < 0.001). Packed cell volume and red blood cell count increased (P < 0.001), as did the concentration of total protein, haemoglobin and fibrinogen (P < 0.001). The most common standing orientation was perpendicular to the direction of travel, there was a strong bias against diagonal orientations. Some animals lay down during transit at all stocking densities, but only at the high stocking density were animals trapped down and unable to rise. Carcass bruising, and plasma activity of creatine kinase increased with stocking density. The number of muscles with final pH values above 6.0 increased; and this effect was not linked to stocking density. The results show that stocking densities above about 550 kg/m2 are unacceptable for animals in this weight range on long journeys. At medium and low density, the physiological data suggest that any increase in journey time or deterioration in transport conditions would be detrimental to welfare.
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Observations have shown relevant differences in the behaviour of Brown Swiss bulls and Pirenaico bulls. Because temperament is involved in the development of dark cutting beef (DC), the aim of this study was to investigate the influence of breed on muscle glycogen content and on the incidence of DC condition. Twenty-four Brown Swiss bulls and 24 Pirenaico bulls were used. The animals were divided into a stressed group (S) and a control group (C). In group S, bulls were mixed with unfamiliar animals overnight before slaughter. In group C, bulls were slaughtered immediately after arrival at the abattoir. The results show that the glycogen concentrations in m. longissimus dorsi and m. sternomandibularis from unstressed animals were similar in both the Brown Swiss and the Pirenaico breeds. The muscle glycogen concentration was depleted in all stressed bulls, nevertheless some low concentrations were insufficient to adversely affect the meat ultimate pH value. Finally, there was no influence of breed on the incidence of the dark cutting condition.
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Two trials were conducted in which a total of twenty-eight Friesian bulls (12 months old) were slaughtered 0, 1, 2, 4, 7, 9 or 10 days after they had been mixed with unfamiliar animals overnight. The resulting behavioural interactions and associated physical activity led to large rises in plasma creatine phosphokinase (CPK) activity and free fatty acid (FFA) concentration and a decrease in plasma lactate. In the second trial the relative number of interactions engaged in by each animal was estimated. Bulls which exhibited the most interactions had the highest levels of plasma CPK and FFA after mixing. Liver and muscle glycogen were depleted by mixing. Animals killed on days 0 and 1 after mixing had low concentrations of liver glycogen compared with animals allowed longer to recover. Concentrations of glycogen in the M. longissimus dorsi (LD) had recovered by day 4 and in the M. psoas by day 2. Muscle glycogen concentrations were reflected in the ultimate pH (pHu) of the meat. All animals killed immediately after mixing produced carcasses with pHu>6. in the LD. By the second day of recovery muscle glycogen stores had been repleted sufficiently so that all animals had muscles with pHu<6. However, the LD from these animals was still very slightly darker than those killed after 7 or more days of recovery although this was probably not commercially significant. It was concluded that, if young bulls from separate rearing groups are mixed before slaughter, either on the farm or during lairage, then they require resting with food for at least 48 h before being killed to ensure that no carcasses are produced with high pHu in the musculature.
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Eight slaughterplants with throughputs ranging from 20 to 300 animals per day were examined to estimate the incidence of dark cutting beef in the United Kingdom. Four thousand, eight hundred and sixteen animals were surveyed and information concerning animal category, source, season and preslaughter handling conditions recorded. Muscle samples were removed to estimate glycogen concentration and after incubation, ultimate pH. The overall incidence of dark cutting (pHu ≥ 6·0) was 4·1%. Increased incidence was associated with short (≤ 20 miles) and long (≥ 150 miles) transport distances. Slaughter on the day of arrival rather than overnight lairage also increased the incidence. Plants were classified into small (killing ≤ 50 animals per day) or large (killing ≥ 100 per day). Eighty per cent of the animals slaughtered passed through the large plants, and a higher incidence was also associated with these plants. Bulls had the highest incidence and heifers the lowest. A seasonal effect was recorded with the highest incidence found between July and October. The results, however, indicate that factors in addition to those examined are also important.