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The effects of lairage time and handling procedure prior to slaughter on stress and meat quality parameters in pigs

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  • University of Novi Sad and University of Donja Gorica

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The effects of lairage time and handling procedure prior to slaughter on
stress and meat quality parameters in pigs
M. Dokmanović
a,
,A.Velarde
b
,V.Tomović
c
,N.Glamočlija
a
, R. Marković
a
,J.Janjić
a
,M.Ž.Baltić
a
a
Department for Food Hygiene Technology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Belgrade, Bulevar Oslobodjenja 18, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia
b
Animal Welfare Subprogram, IRTA, Finca Camps i Armet, 17121 Monells, Girona, Spain
c
Faculty of Technology, University of Novi Sad, Bulevar Cara Lazara 1, 21000 Novi Sad, Serbia
abstractarticle info
Article history:
Received 23 September 2013
Received in revised form 19 March 2014
Accepted 2 June 2014
Available online 11 June 2014
Keywords:
Pig
Lactate
Cortisol
pH Value
Meat quality
Lairage time (short 8 min to 2.7 h, n = 28 vs. long 14 to 21.5 h, n = 72) and pig handling (gentle no use of
stick or electric prod, pig not slipping, falling, nor emitting high-pitched vocalizations vs. rough where any of
these occurred) effects on pig stress and meat quality were measured. Blood lactate and cortisol, plus post-
mortem pH (pH
60 min
;pH
24 h
), temperature (T
60 min
), drip loss, sensory and instrumental color and meat quality
for the longissimus dorsi, pars lumbalis derived meat were determined. Carcass rigor mortis and skin damages
were measured. Lairage time signicantly affected blood lactate, carcass rigor mortis, skin damages, drip loss,
color and meat quality. Handling procedure inuenced blood lactate, pH
60 min
and T
60 min
. Long lairage was
more stressful, and was detrimental to carcass quality, but caused better meat quality compared to short lairage.
Rough handling was related to higher lactate and lower meat quality.
© 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
1. Introduction
All meat animals will experience some levelof stress prior to slaugh-
ter and this in turn, may have detrimental effects on meat quality
(Ferguson et al., 2001). After arrival in the slaughterhouse, two impor-
tant factors that may affect the level of stress in pigs, and consequently
pork quality, are lairage time and handling procedure immediately prior
to slaughter.
Nanni Costa, Lo Fiego, Dall'Olio, Davoli, and Russo (2002) found that
lairage time was an important source of variation determining meat
quality. After overnight lairage, meat was darker, had a higher ultimate
pH, and greater water holding capacity, producing less drip during
storage, compared to lairage of two hours (Nanni Costa et al., 2002).
Compared to lairage time of less than three hours, overnight lairage
reduced carcass weight, backfat thickness and meat temperature
(Warriss, Brown, Edwards, & Knowles, 1998). In addition, the percentage
of carcasses with skin blemishes and high ultimate pH increased
progressively with longer periods of lairage (Warriss et al., 1998).
According to Warriss (2003) and Nanni Costa et al. (2002), the optimal
lairage time is between one and three hours, since lairage shorter than
one hour increases the prevalence of pale, soft and exudative (PSE)
meat, while lairage longer than three hours poses a risk for developing
dark, rm and dry (DFD) meat and skin damages.
According to Hambrecht, Eissen, Newman, Smits, den Hartog, and
Verstegen (2005), great improvement in pork quality can be achieved
by reducing stress (actually the use of electric goads), immediately be-
fore slaughter. Hemsworth, Barnett, Hofmeyr, Coleman, Dowling and
Boyce (2002) found a correlation between negative interactions that
pigs received from the stockperson immediately prior to slaughter and
meat quality deterioration. Most of these negative interactions were
prods with an electric goad. Benjamin et al. (2001) and Rabaste et al.
(2007) found that frequent use of electric prods during pig handling
leading to the stunning area led to pigs turning back, jumping, slipping
and/or falling, and also caused injuries, so the carcasses of these animals
had a higher degree of bruising and skin damages, as well as reduced
quality of meat (PSE meat). Intense stress before stunning provoked
by rough treatment increased concentrations of norepinephrine, corti-
sol and lactate (Hambrecht et al., 2004), heart rate, body temperature
(Griot, Boulard, Chevillon, & Kerisit, 2000) and percentage of carcasses
with skin damages (Rabaste et al., 2007). Furthermore, a severe stress
one minute before stunning reduced the ultimate pH and increased
drip loss of pork (Hambrecht, Eissen, Newman, Smits, den Hartog,
et al., 2005; Rabaste et al., 2007; van der Wal, Engel, & Reimert, 1999).
Overall, lairage duration and handling immediately prior to slaugh-
ter seem to be important in the management of stress in pigs and in
the resultant pork meat quality, but these interactions are likely very
complex. Therefore, the objective of this study was to evaluate effects
of two different lairage times (short, from 8 min to 2.7 h of lairage,
n = 28 vs. long, from 14 to 21.5 h of lairage, n = 72) and handling
procedures (gentle vs. rough, based on use of stick or electric prod
Meat Science 98 (2014) 220226
Correspondding author at: Departm ent for Food Hygiene Technology, Faculty of
Veterinary Medicine, University of Belgrade, Bulevar Oslobodjenja 18, 11000 Belgrade,
Serbia. Tel.: +381 11 2685936, fax: +381 11 2685936.
E-mail address: marijadok@gmail.com (M. Dokmanović).
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.meatsci.2014.06.003
0309-1740/© 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
Meat Science
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/meatsci
and reaction of pigs) on selected stress indicators (lactate, cortisol
and skin damages) and meat quality parameters (initial and ultimate
pH values, temperature, rigor mortis, drip loss, instrumental and
sensory color) in pigs for slaughter.
2. Material and methods
2.1. Animals, housing and feeding
Commercial market pigs (n = 100, comprising 31 gilts, 51 barrows
and 18 boars), six months of age and with live weights between 115
and 130 kg were studied. All animals were of the same cross-breed
(cross between Naima sows and hybrids P-76 PenArLan boars) and
originated from the same farm. Pigs were housed in the nishingfacility
on partially slatted oors, in pens with 20 animals per pen (stocking
density = 1 m
2
/pig). Pigs were provided with ad libitum feed and
water via one automatic feeder and two nipple drinkers in each pen.
2.2. Pre-slaughter and slaughter
Feed and water were not withdrawn from the animals before trans-
portation. The distance between pens and the transportation trailer was
about 20 m and the loading ramp wassloped downwards at 15°. All the
pigs (n = 20) from each pen were transported together as one batch of
animals at a stocking density of 0.45 m
2
/pig. Transport from farm to the
abattoir lasted 15 min. The surface of the trailer oor and the unloading
dock were on the same level (not sloped). During loading and
unloading, sticks and electric prods were used to move pigs. After
unloading, pigs entered a 10 m long corridor that led to the lairage
pens. During lairage, pigs were not mixed (each batch of 20 pigs was
lairaged in one pen), and stocking density was 0.70 m
2
per pig. In
lairage, pigs had access to water. A 5 m, single-le corridor led from
the lairage pens to the stunning area. During pig handling from lairage
pens to the stunning area, sticks and electric prods were used according
to industry practice in Serbia. After lairage, pigs were head-only electri-
cally stunned (50 Hz, 2 A and 220 V) in batches of 6 animals without
restraining. Immediately after stunning pigs were bled on the oor
and then hoisted on a rail. The time of current application was on aver-
age 3.51 ± 2.08 s and the time from stunning to sticking ranged from 1
to 10 s. Following bleeding, carcasses were processed using convention-
al industry practice.
2.3. Experimental design
One group of pigs entered the lairage in the early morning hours
(around 6 AM) and was slaughtered on the same day (short lairage,
from 8 min to 2.7h, average of1.36 h; n = 28). The other group entered
the lairage in the afternoon (around 4 PM), overnighted in the lairage
and was slaughtered the following morning (long lairage, from 14 to
21.5 h, average of 17.01 h; n = 72).
Three observers assessed handling procedures and pig behaviors for
each pig while the animals walked from the lairage pen to the stunning
area. Observers stood at three different places to record their observa-
tions: at the exit of lairage pen; next to the corridor; and in the stunning
area. Pigs were sent to slaughter in groups of 6 animals. At the back of
the group, a stock handler forced the pigs on go down the corridor
with a stick and an electric prod. Those pigs at the rear were able to
jump on pigs in front and consequently those animals involved in
these behaviors could slip, fall or vocalize. Handling and behavior
parameters were scored as present or absent, but the number of times
per animal was not recorded. Handling procedures were dened as
rough or gentle. A pig was classied as roughly handled if it was hit
with the stick or prodded with the electric prod, or if it slipped, fell or
vocalized in a high pitch (Table 1). If any of these handling or behavior
parameters or their combination was present for any pig, handling of
that pig was characterized as rough. In contrast, the absence of all of
these handling and behavior parameters was classied as gentle
handling of the observed pig.
2.4. Blood sampling and determination of blood lactate and cortisol content
At slaughter, blood samples were collected into plastic tubes and a
part of this materialwas then transferred to Vacutainer tubes containing
heparin (against blood coagulation) which were placed on ice. Blood
lactate content was immediately determined using a portable lactate
analyzer (Lactate Scout, EKF Diagnostic, Magdeburg, Germany), which
was calibrated with a standard solution to ensure accuracy. After
blood collection and within 4 to 6 h, the Vacutainer tubes were centri-
fuged at 3000 rpm for 3 min to separate blood supernatant (plasma).
Plasma was transferred into microtubes and stored at 20 °C until
the determination of cortisol concentration by radioimmunoassay
(RIA-CT Cortisol, INEP, Belgrade, Serbia).
2.5. Carcass and meat quality analyses
Carcasses were clearly labeled to ensure that they originated from
the 100 live pigs studied. Meat quality measurements were carried
out 60 min, 24 and 72 h after slaughter on muscle longissimus dorsi
(LD) and pars lumbalis. Values of pH and temperature were measured
using a Testo 205 (Germany) pH-meter, calibrated with pH 4.00 and
7.00 phosphate buffer, at 60 min (pH
60 min
,T
60 min
) and 24 h (pH
24 h
)
post-mortem. Skin damages were assessed on three regions of the
right carcass side (from head to back of shoulder,from back of shoulder
to hind-quarters and the region of the hind-quarters) immediately after
dressingusing scores 1 (no damage), 2 (scratches or small wounds, less
than 2 cm), 3 (bleeding wounds between 2 and 5 cm or healed wounds
of more than 5 cm) and 4 (deep and open wounds of more than 5 cm).
The nal score for each carcass was obtained by summing scores for the
three regions. The degree of rigor mortis was estimated on the right car-
cass side 3 h post-mortem by measuring the degree of angle between
body axis and foreleg (Davis, Townsend, & McCampbell, 1978). For
that purpose, photographic images of carcass sides were taken, at a dis-
tance of approximately 2 m and a height of 160 cm, parallel to the plane
in which carcass sides were hanging, and the angle was then calculated
using an AutoCAD 2010 software (Autodesk, Inc., San Francisco, USA)
(Image 1). For determination of drip loss and color, meat samples,
which were 2.5 cm thick loin chops, were taken 24 h after slaughter
from LD, between the 3rd and 4th lumbar vertebrae. Meat samples
were weighed and stored for 48 h at 4 °C in a container (Honikel,
1998). After storage, meat samples were reweighed and the percentage
Table 1
Denition of handling and behavior parameters.
Parameters Denition
Stick use A hit with stick to any part of the pig's body
Electric prod use An electric prod touches any part of the pig's body
Slipping Loss of balance without the pig's body touching the oor
Falling Loss of balance in which any part of the pig's body (except legs) touches the oor
High-pitched vocalization High-pitched squeals during movement through the handling area
221M. Dokmanovićet al. / Meat Science 98 (2014) 220226
of drip loss was calculated. Sensory and instrumental color (CIE L*a*b*;
CIE, 1976) were determined at 24 h post-mortem, after approximately
60 min of blooming time (Honikel, 1998). L*, a* and b* (CIE, 1976)
values were determinedusing a Minolta chroma meterCR-400 (Minolta
Co., Ltd., Osaka, Japan) utilizinga 65 light source and a 2° observer. Color
and drip loss were analyzed in duplicate. An analytical panel of three
trained members assessed the sensory color of meat samples by using
a16 scaling method (NPPC, 2000). Meat quality classes (pale, soft
and exudative PSE; reddish-pink, soft and exudative RSE; red,
rm and non-exudative RFN; pale, rm and non-exudative PFN;
and dark, rm and dry DFD) were determined according to
Kauffman, Cassens, Scherer, and Meeker (1992), using the pH
24 h
,drip
loss after 48 h of storage and L* parameter (CIE, 1976)after24hpost-
mortem (Table 2).
2.6. Statistical analysis
Statistical analysis of the results was conducted using the software
GraphPad Prism version 5.00 for Windows (GraphPad Software, San
Diego, California USA, www.graphpad.com). All parameters were de-
scribed by descriptive statistics (mean, standard deviation, minimum
and maximum values). Student t-test was used to examine the effects
of lairage time (short vs. long) and handling procedure (gentle vs.
rough) on stress and meat quality parameters in pigs. Two-way
ANOVA with Tukey's multiple comparison test was used to test com-
bined effects of two lairage times and handling procedures on lactate
and cortisol contents. Differences between long and short lairage
times, and between gentle and rough handling for meat in the differing
quality classes (PSE, RSE, RFN, PFN and DFD) were determined by
Fisher's exact test. Values of p b0.05 were considered signicant.
3. Results and discussion
3.1. Characterization of the experimental population
Table 3 shows mean values of stress and meat quality parameters in
pigs. Blood lactate at exsanguination ranged from 1.3 to 24.6 mmol/l
which is in accordance with the results of other authors, who detected
from 1.1 to 20.6 mmol/l (Edwards, Grandin, et al., 2010), from 4.0 to
19.7 mmol/l (Edwards, Engle, et al., 2010) and from 0.11 to
20.57 mmol/l (Hemsworth et al., 2002). Blood cortisol content varied
within studies, on average from 49.5 to 80.8 ng/ml (Hambrecht et al.,
2004) and from 55.1 to 77.9 ng/ml (Hambrecht, Eissen, Newman,
Smits, den Hartog, et al., 2005), with a range from 1.70 to 300.9 ng/mg
(Foury et al., 2005), which was close to the range observed in the cur-
rent study (3 to 248 nmol/l). These large variations in cortisol content
could be due to inuences of species, breed, time of day, stress, meal,
physicalor sexual activity,change of environment, individual variability
gentle handling 9.24 6.33
rough handling 13.21 15.92
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
16
gentle handling
rough handling
long lairage short lairage
mmol/l
9.24±0.59
13.21±1.13
6.33±0.92
15.92±1.82
A
A
B
B
n=43 n=29 n=23 n=5
Fig. 1. Concentrations of lactate (mmol/l) in relation to the lairage time and handling
procedure (XSEM). Bars lacking a common letter differ (p b0.05).
gentle handling 53.71 64.65
rough handling 60.62 73
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
gentle handling
rough handling
long lairage short lairage
nmol/l
53.71±8.42
60.62±10.83
64.65±14.33
73.00±23.05
A
AA
A
n=43 n=29 n=23 n=5
Fig. 2. Concentrations of cortisol (nmol/l) in relation to the lairage time and handling
procedure (XSEM). Bars lacking a common letter differ (p b0.05).
Image 1. Determination of degree of angle between body axis and foreleg.
Table 2
Assessment of meat quality classes according to Kauffman et al. (1992).
Meat quality pH
24 h
Drip loss (%) L* value
PSE b6.0 550
RSE b6.0 54250
RFN b6.0 b54250
PFN b6.0 b550
DFD 6.0 b5b42
pH
24 h
pH value measure d 24 h post-mo rtem; L* lightne ss; PSE pale, soft an d
exudative; RSE reddish-pink, soft and exudative; RFN red, rm and non-exudative;
PFN pale, rm and non-exudative; and DFD dark, rm and dry meat.
222 M. Dokmanovićet al. / Meat Science 98 (2014) 220226
and other factors (Mormede, 2007). In the current study, though, the
pigs were of the same cross-breed, reared under an identical production
regime, with similar pre-slaughter handling before entering lairage
pens, and were all slaughtered in the morning to limit the confounding
effect of diurnal cortisol uctuation (Mormede, 2007). At this time,
cortisol concentrations were likely higher than they would have been
in the afternoon or evening, although measurement of this was not an
aim of the current study. Therefore, the great variation in cortisol levels
that we have observed could be, at least partly, a consequence of indi-
vidual variability. The higher concentrations of cortisol measured in in-
dividual pigs could reect exquisite sensitivity of the hypothalamic
pituitaryadrenal axis to stressors rather than a high level of stress
(Foury, Geverink, Gil, Gispert, Hortos, Font, Furnols, Carrion, Blott,
Plastow & Mormede, 2007). Values of pH after 60 min ranged from
5.64 to 6.81, and after 24 h from 5.26 to 5.93. The highest carcass tem-
perature was 40.3 °C and the highest drip loss of meat samples was
9.50%. Rigor mortis was from 115.1 to 136.6°. Some carcasses were
without any skin blemishes (score 3), while others scored the maxi-
mum for skin blemishes (score 12). CIE parameters ranged from 35.11
to 60.22 (CIE L* value), from 4.15 to 11.83 (CIE a* value) and from
2.23 to 7.41 (CIE b* value), while sensory color scores ranged from 1.0
to 4.0.
3.2. Lairage time
Table 4 shows stress and meat quality parameters in relation to the
short and long lairage times. Pigs undergoing long lairage had
signicantly higher (p b0.05) blood lactate content (10.86 mmol/l)
compared to short lairage (8.04 mmol/l), which may be due to higher
stress reactions of those pigs because they were more exposed to
stressful procedures in lairage, such as rough handling, ghts, change
of environment and food deprivation (Bruijnzeel, Stam, Compaan, &
Wiegant, 2001; Stam, Bruijnzeel, & Wiegant, 2000; Stam, van Laar,
Akkermans, & Wiegant, 2002). Perez, Palacio, Santolaria, Del Aceña,
Chacón, Verde, Calvo, Zaragoza, Gascón and García-Belenguer (2002)
did not nd that lairage time had any signicant effect on blood lactate,
while Salajpal, Dikic, Karolyi, Sinjeri, Liker, Kostelic and Juric (2005)
determined that one group of pigs after short lairage (2 h) had higher
blood lactate levels compared to pigs in long lairage (24 h). In the
current study, there was no signicant difference between the two com-
pared cortisol concentrations (Table 4). Although Nanni Costa et al.
(2002) found lower initial and ultimate pH values after short lairage
compared to long lairage, in the current study, no differences in meat
pH were seen among pigs undergoing short or long lairage. Similarly,
no signicant difference was determined in meat temperature between
the two lairage time groups. As the degree of rigor mortis can be used to
assess stress level prior to slaughter (Knowles & Warriss, 2007; Warriss,
Brown, & Knowles, 2003), the signicantly higher (p b0.01) degree of
rigor mortis (124.1°) after a long lairage could indicate a procedure
more stressful, in accordance with lactate concentrations. The results
of the current study show that longer lairage signicantly (p b0.001)
increased skin damage score, as found by other authors (Guardia et al.,
2009; Nanni Costa et al., 2002; Warriss et al., 1998), because pigs were
more aggressive due to the prolonged period of food withdrawal.
After short lairage, drip loss (6.93%) was signicantly higher (p b0.01)
compared to long lairage (6.05%), which is in accordance with the re-
sults of other authors (Hoffman & Fisher, 2010; Salajpal et al., 2005).
Lower drip loss of meat after long lairage could be a consequence of
higher muscle glycogen degradation and higher meat pH value,
meaning meat released less water (Dalmau, Velarde, & Gispert,
2009). Signicantly (p b0.001)darkermeatcolor(lowerCIEL*
value) was found after long lairage, which was also conrmed by a
signicantly (p b0.05) higher value for sensory color. Similar chang-
es in color were also found by Nanni Costa et al. (2002) and Hoffman
and Fisher (2010). After short lairage, signicantly higher CIE a*
(8.16) and CIE b* (4.78) values were found compared to long lairage
(7.53 and 3.97). In addition, lairage times had an effect on meat quality
classes (Table 5). For example, after short lairage a signicantly higher
(p b0.001) incidence of PSE (82.14%) and lower incidences of RSE
(17.86%) and RFN meat (0%) were found, compared to the group with
long lairage (30.55, 41.67 and 20.83%, respectively) (Table 5). Similarly
Perez, Palacio, Santolaria, Del Aceña, Chacón, Verde, Calvo, Zaragoza,
Gascón and García-Belenguer (2002) and Nanni Costa et al. (2002)
found that longer lairage had a positive effect in reducing the incidence
of PSE meat. Moreover, a high percentage of carcasses with PSE (45.0%)
Table 3
Characterizat ion of the experimental populati on (n = 100): Stress and meat quality
parameters.
Parameter XSD Min. Max.
Blood lactate (mmol/l) 10.06 ± 5.47 1.30 24.60
Plasma cortisol (nmol/l) 58.36 ± 57.46 3.00 248.00
pH
60 min
6.33 ± 0.21 5.64 6.81
pH
24 h
5.55 ± 0.13 5.26 5.93
T
60 min
(°C) 38.58 ± 0.74 37.10 40.30
Rigor mortis (°) 124.80 ± 4.62 115.10 136.60
Skin damages score 7.09 ± 2.30 3.00 12.00
Drip loss (%) 6.30 ± 1.40 3.01 9.50
CIE L* value 50.20 ± 3.02 35.11 60.22
CIE a* value 7.71 ± 1.26 4.15 11.83
CIE b* value 4.21 ± 0.96 2.23 7.41
Sensory color 2.44 ± 0.52 1.00 4.00
pH
60 min
and pH
24 h
pH values measured 60 min and 24 hpost-mortem;T
60 min
meat
temperature mea sured 60 min post-mortem; L* lightness; a* redness; and b*
yellowness.
Table 4
Stress and meat quality parameters in relation to the lairage time.
Parameter Short lairage (n = 28) Long lairage (n = 72)
XSD Min. Max. X SD Min. Max.
Blood lactate (mmol/l) 8.04
a
± 5.70 1.3 21.5 10.86
b
± 5.21 2.6 2 4.6
Plasma cortisol (nmol/l) 67.04 ± 63.28 5 247 54.89 ± 55.06 3 248
pH
60 min
6.33 ± 0.21 6.03 6.74 6.33 ± 0.21 5.64 6.81
pH
24 h
5.54 ± 0.11 5.26 5.77 5.57 ± 0.13 5.30 5.93
T
60 min
(°C) 38.71 ± 0.77 37.1 40.2 38.44 ± 0.70 37.2 40.3
Rigor mortis (°) 126.70
x
± 3.85 116.5 134.1 124.10
y
± 4.71 1 15.1 1 36.6
Skin damages score 5.88
α
± 2.41 3 12 7.57
β
±2.08 3 12
Drip loss (%) 6.93
x
± 1.08 5.03 8.97 6.05
y
± 1.44 3.01 9.50
CIE L* value 52.30
α
± 2.86 48.97 60.22 49.37
β
± 2.67 35.11 57.44
CIE a* value 8.16
a
± 1.17 5.37 10.62 7.53
b
± 1.25 4.15 11.83
CIE b* value 4.78
α
± 1.13 3.47 7.41 3.97
β
± 0.78 2.23 6.62
Sensory color 2.26
a
± 0.52 1.0 3.5 2.50
b
± 0.54 1.0 4.0
pH
60 min
and pH
24 h
pH valuesmeasured 60 min and 24 h post-mortem; T
60 min
meat temperature measured60 min post-mortem;L* lightness; a* redness; and b* yellowness;
within a row different letters indicate a signicant difference between groups (a,b pb0.05; x,y pb0.01; α,βpb0.001).
223M. Dokmanovićet al. / Meat Science 98 (2014) 220226
and RSE (35.0%) meat in the current study indicated a problem with
meat softness and exudation, which was also observed by Panella-
Riera, Gispert, Gil, Soler, Tibau, Oliver, Velarde and Fabrega (2012).In
our study, 49% of carcasses had a pale color (CIE L* 50) compared to
51% of carcasses with red and dark color (CIE L* b50), which is similar
to those carcasses observed by Tomović, Jokanović, Petrović, Tomović,
Tasić, Ikonić, Sumić, Sojić, Skaljac and Sošo (2013) (43.4% and 56.6%,
respectively).
3.3. Handling procedure
Table 6 shows frequencies of pig handling and pig's behavior param-
eters according to which pigs were assigned to the categories of gentle
or rough handling. The group with gentle handling, in which none of
the mentioned pig handling or behavior parameters was observed,
contained 66% of pigs, while the remaining 34% of pigs were categorized
into the group with rough handling. Occurrences of slipping, falling or
being electrically prodded are negative to the animal's well-being
(Grandin, 2010) and therefore should be minimized during handling.
In our study, the use of a stick or electric prod in 17% of pigs led to
their slipping, falling and high-pitched vocalization, but also to their
jumping on pigs in front, which then exhibited a similar behavior.
Similarly, Correa et al. (2010) observed that the use of an electric prod
caused a higher incidence of slipping, falling and vocalization in pigs.
Greater heart rates and cortisol and lactate concentrations in blood of
pigs handled with an electric prod have been reported in several studies
(Brundige, Oleas, Doumit, & Zanella, 1998; Correa et al., 2010;
Hemsworth et al., 2002), conrming the higher degree of stress.
Slipping and falling caused stress in animals (Cockram & Corley, 1991;
Grandin, 1998), and therefore, in the current study, pigs that slipped
(14%) or fell (13%) experienced a stressful procedure. Furthermore,
high-pitched vocalization can be an indicator of stress and negative
emotional states in pigs (Dupjan, Tuchscherer, Langbein, Schon,
Manteuffel & Puppe, 2011; Manteuffel, Puppe, & Schön, 2004; Reimert,
Bolhuis, Kemp, & Rodenburg, 2013), so the 15% of pigs in our study
with such high-pitched vocalization may have done this in response
to stress.
Table 6 shows stress and meat quality parameters in relation to the
handling procedure. Blood lactate content was signicantly higher
(p b0.001) after rough handling (13.61 mmol/l) compared to after
gentle handling (8.21 mmol/l). The impact of rough procedures on
increase of blood lactate was also determined by Hambrecht et al.
(2004) and Hambrecht, Eissen, Newman, Smits, den Hartog, et al.
(2005). Inadequate pre-slaughter handling operations often elevate
blood cortisol levels (Bradshaw et al., 1996). However, no signicant
differences were found in blood cortisol between the two handling
procedures in the current study. Effects of lairage time and handling
procedure on blood lactate and cortisol content are shown in Figs. 1
and 2.Signicantly higher (p b0.05) lactate values were measured
after rough handling compared to gentle handling, regardless of
lairage duration. In terms of blood cortisol, there were no signicant
differences between the compared groups. After pigs were gently
handled prior to slaughter, the initial meat pH value (6.37) was
signicantly higher (p b0.01) compared to that of meat from pigs
exposed to rough handling (6.26), which is in accordance with the
results of most authors (Hambrecht, Eissen, Newman, Smits,
Verstegen & den Hartog, 2005; Hambrecht et al., 2004; Rabaste
et al., 2007; Stoier, Aaslyng, Olsen, & Henckel, 2001). In fact, rough
treatment immediately prior to slaughter causes release of stress
hormones that speed up metabolism in muscles and post-mortem
glycogen degradation which leads to lower initial pH values of
meat (Lambooij, 2000). This is conrmed by signicantly higher
(p b0.001) meat temperature after rough handling (38.92 °C)
compared to that after gentle handling (38.40 °C). In the current
study, ultimate pH values did not differ after rough (5.55) or gentle
handling (5.54), while other authors found higher ultimate pH
values after rough handling compared to after gentle handling
(Carr, Newman, Rentfrow, Keisler, & Berg, 2008; Hambrecht,
Eissen, Newman, Smits, Verstegen, et.al., 2005; Hambrecht et al.,
2004). Contrary to the ndings of most authors who measured
darker meat color after rough handling (Hambrecht, Eissen,
Newman, Smits, Verstegen, et.al., 2005; Stoier et al., 2001;
Terlouw & Rybarczyk, 2008), in the current study, no signicant
difference was found in the color of meat from pigs handled gently
compared to those handled roughly. No signicant differences
were found between the two handling procedures in the incidences
Table 5
The effect of lairage time on incidences of meat quality classes (n = 100).
Lairage Total PSE RSE RFN PFN DFD
n % n% n% n% n% n%
Short 28 100 23 82.14
α
517.86
a
00
x
00 00
Long 72 100 22 30.55
β
30 41.67
b
15 20.83
y
4 5.55 1 1.4
Total 1001004545 3535 1515 44 11
PSE pale, soft and exudative; RSE reddish-pink, soft and exudative; RFN red, rm
and non-exudative; PFN pale, rm and non-exudative; and DFD dark, rm and dry
meat; within a column different letters indicate signicant difference between groups
(a,b pb0.05; x,y pb0.01; α,βpb0.001).
Table 6
Stress and meat quality parameters in relation to the handling procedure.
Parameter Gentle handling (n = 66) Rough handling (n = 34)
XSD Min. Max. X SD Min. Max.
Blood lactate (mmol/l) 8.21
α
± 4.25 1.3 17.5 13.61
β
± 5.84 2.8 24.6
Plasma cortisol (nmol/l) 57.08 ± 58.64 3 248 63.53 ± 56.94 4 221
pH
60 min
6.37
x
± 0.18 6.01 6.81 6.26
y
± 0.23 5.64 6.67
pH
24h
5.54 ± 0.14 5.26 5.93 5.55 ± 0.13 5.32 5.77
T
60 min
(°C) 38.40
α
± 0.67 37.1 39.9 38.92
β
± 0.76 37.5 40.3
Rigor mortis (°) 125.00 ± 4.54 115.1 136.6 124.40 ± 4.83 116.3 135.4
Skin damage score 6.82 ± 2.23 3 12 7.47 ± 2.48 3 12
Drip loss (%) 6.41 ± 1.41 3.01 9.49 6.08 ± 1.38 3.73 8.82
CIE L* value 49.91 ± 2.92 35.11 55.19 50.78 ± 3.17 46.64 60.22
CIE a* value 7.67 ± 1.17 4.15 10.62 7.80 ± 1.43 6.03 11.83
CIE b* value 4.19 ± 0.84 2.23 6.78 4.24 ± 1.18 2.70 7.41
Sensory color 2.45 ± 0.54 1.0 4.0 2.39 ± 0.54 1.0 3.5
pH
60 min
and pH
24 h
pH valuesmeasured 60 min and 24 h post-mortem; T
60 min
meat temperature measured60 min post-mortem;L* lightness; a* redness; and b* yellowness;
within a row different letters indicate a signicant difference between groups (x,y pb0.01; α,βpb0.001).
224 M. Dokmanovićet al. / Meat Science 98 (2014) 220226
of meat quality classes (Table 7). Carr, Newman, Rentfrow, Keisler
and Berg (2008) found that on-farm handling procedures did not
have any signicant inuence on incidence of PSE and DFD meat.
4. Conclusion
Long lairage proved to be a more stressful procedure (higher blood
lactate content and higher degree of rigor mortis and skin damages),
and had a detrimental effect on carcass quality (higher degree of skin
damages), but resulted in better meat quality (lower drip loss and
darker color) compared to short lairage. After short lairage (from
8 min to 2.7 h) a higher incidence of PSE meat and lower incidence of
RFN meat (normal quality) were observed compared to the group
with long lairage (from 14 to 21.5 h). Rough handling was related to
higher blood lactate and lower meat quality (lower pH
60 min
and higher
T
60 min
).
Acknowledgments
This paper was supported by the Ministry of Education and Science,
Republic of Serbia, through the funding of the Project Selected biolog-
ical hazards to the safety/quality of food of animal origin and the control
measures from farm to consumer(31034). The authors wish to express
their sincere gratitude to Dr. Sheryl Avery andProfessor Sava Buncic for
their linguistic and scientic comments.
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Rough 34 100 15 44.12 10 29.41 5 14.71 3 8.82 1 2.94
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... The latter lesions are generally linked to aggressive behavior between pen mates and inefficient management at the farm level [43]. Among others, the regrouping of pigs during the rearing phase [43], the feeding regime [44], and the pen density [45] are considered on-farm risk factors favoring skin lesions, although other factors are involved in the development of skin lesions, such are transport and lairage at the slaughterhouse [46][47][48]. ...
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The assessment of swine welfare requires feasible, reliable, and reasonable indicators. On-farm evaluation of pig welfare can provide valuable information to veterinarians and farmers. However, such protocols can result expensive and time-consuming. With this regard, an interest in the appraisal of swine welfare at abattoir has grown over the recent years. In particular, the use of certain lesions collected directly from slaughtered animals to determine the welfare status of pigs has been evaluated by several authors. In the present review, the different methods developed to score lesions collected directly from the body and the viscera of animals slaughtered in European abattoirs (“abattoir-based measures”) are presented. The text specifically focuses on the methods currently available in the literature for the scoring of body, pluck and gastric lesions during post-mortem activities. Moreover, the strengths and weaknesses of abattoir-based measures schemes are discussed. To conclude, the future perspectives of the assessment of pig welfare at the slaughterhouse are described, appealing for a benchmarking system that can be systematically used by veterinarians and other professional figures involved in the process.
... Long-term high-altitude environment adaptability may result in the difference of energy metabolic activity in the muscle and further affect the tenderloin pH of TP (Gan et al., 2019;Zhang et al., 2017;Zhang et al., 2019). Because initial pH value of muscle/meat has an important effect on postmortem processes (Dokmanovic et al., 2014;Jerez-Timaure, Brickmann, Ramirez, Strobel, & Berkhoff, 2018), the reason for pH differences is important for understanding the mechanism of TP meat quality. The moisture content of the TP tenderloin was 7.5% lower than that of the YP tenderloin (p < 0.01), indicating a higher dry matter and nutrient content of the TP tenderloin. ...
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The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of on-farm handling intensity (conventional vs. passive), transport stocking density: (high vs. low), and preslaughter lairage time (45 min vs. 3 h) on digestive tract temperature, serum cortisol concentrations, and pork quality of market pigs slaughtered in November (NOV; n = 111), February (FEB; n = 113), and August (AUG; n = 112). Pigs slaughtered in FEB had greater (P ≤ 0.027) digestive tract temperatures before loadout than pigs slaughtered in NOV or AUG. The digestive tract temperature of pigs slaughtered in AUG was greater (P ≤ 0.027) during than before loadout. Pigs afforded 3 h of lairage tended to have greater (P = 0.068) digestive tract temperatures than pigs given 45 min of lairage. When pigs were slaughtered in AUG and NOV, those afforded 3 h of lairage had greater (P = 0.042) cortisol concentrations than pigs given only 45 min of lairage. Carcasses of pigs slaughtered in AUG had a paler (P ≤ 0.032) LM than carcasses of pigs slaughtered in NOV and FEB, and greater (P ≤ 0.032) LM purge losses than pigs slaughtered in FEB. Pigs given a 45 min lairage had greater (P = 0.036) 30-h LM pH values, darker LM (P = 0.008), greater (P = 0.012) subjective color scores, and tended (P = 0.069) to have lower purge loss percentages than pigs given a 3-h lairage. Results indicated that pigs should have less than 3 h of lairage when the day\s low ambient temperature is ≤ 22°C to decrease antemortem stress and improve lean quality.
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The potential eating quality of beef is set by the intrinsic structural and compositional characteristics of muscle. However, the extrinsic factors that prevail during the production of the animal, slaughter and processing of its carcass and finally, cooking can produce changes in these structural and compositional characteristics that ultimately manifest as large variations in beef palatability. The conditions that apply in the 24-48 h immediately before and after slaughter are recognised as having the largest influence on beef palatability. This review specifically examines the critical pre- and post-slaughter factors and discusses their putative effects on biochemical and physical changes in muscle and the consequences to beef palatability. Areas for future research within this domain are also discussed.
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Welfare is not totally objective. What level of physiological stress or mortality is acceptable? How hungry or thirsty can an animal become before the conditions are not acceptable? Degrees of hunger, dehydration and other stresses can be measured with objective biochemical methods or other tests. One must remember that during mating, play or hunting, many of the biochemical variables that are commonly used as measures of welfare reach extreme values. In these situations, the animal may have good welfare. However, many stressors that occur during transport have a longer duration. In this chapter, studies on transport mortalities for cattle, calves, sheep, pigs and poultry are reviewed. The chapter also reviews measures of physiological indicators of fasting, dehydration, general reactions to stress (heart rate, cortisol, respiration and glucose) and physical activity (lactate, glycogen, creatine kinase).
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Fasting pigs at the farm prior to transport and keeping pigs in lairage before slaughter can affect carcass, gastrointestinal tract content and meat quality. The aim of the present study was to determine the effect of the on-farm fasting periods and lairage on the killing-out, carcass and meat quality. Seventy-two pigs were submitted to a 2 x 2 experimental design, with two on-farm fasting periods (0 or 12 h) and two lairage times (0 or 12 h) while handling was performed under minimal stressful ante mortem conditions. Feed intake was monitored individually, and carcass and meat quality traits were studied. On-farm fasting time increased life body weight losses during the on-farm fast period (P<0.001) and cold killing-out (P = 0.01). On-farm fasting time also tended to increase skin lesions (P = 0.082) and pH measured at 45 min in the Semimembranosus muscle (P = 0.0753). Lairage also increased body weight losses (P<0.001) and killing-out (P = 0.003), and did not affect any of the meat quality traits. The following meat quality classes were also defined: (i) pale, soft and exudative, (ii) red, soft and exudative, (iii) pale, firm and exudative, (iv) red, firm and non-exudative, and (v) dark firm and dry. Their incidence was studied: no incidence of dark, firm and dry pork was observed, and loins from pigs fasted up to 12 h were mainly classified as red, soft and exudative. In the present study, long feed deprivation (24-26 h) did not negatively affect carcass traits and reduced the incidence of exudative meat without increasing the occurrence of dark firm and dry pork.
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At unloading and on the way to stunning, 800 barrows were exposed to either gentie handling (GH: slowly with a plastic board or whip) or rough handling (RH: quickly with an electric prod). Pigs were kept in large or small groups (30 or 10 pigs) during lairage. Compared with GH, RH increased climbing (P < 0.05), slipping (P < 0.01) and turning around (P < 0.001) behaviours during unloading, and climbing (P < 0.05) on the way to stunning. RH also reduced drinking behaviour during lairage (P < 0.01). Pigs kept in large groups were observed more often standing (P < 0.05) and fighting (P < 0.001) than pigs kept in small groups, but, in contrast, had a slightly lower level of urinary cortisol at slaughter. Stomach weight and microbial contamination at slaughter were not affected by treatments. RH tended to increase skin bruise score on the carcass (P < 0.06) and produced more exudative meat (P < 0.05). In conclusion, the response of pigs to the two specific Stressors applied prior to slaughter in this study did not seem to contribute to stomach weight variation at slaughter, but it did influence pork quality.