Significant variation in the management of cull sows before transport for slaughter: results from a survey of Danish pig farmers
The Veterinary Record
BackgroundApproximately 50% of sows are slaughtered each year, but management of cull sows is not well described.MethodsWe aimed to describe how cull sows are sent to slaughter using a questionnaire survey emailed to 885 Danish pig farmers, including questions about the use of pick-up facilities (either a designated pen used for reasons of biosecurity and practicality, in a special part of the barn, where pigs are kept in the last hours before being loaded onto a commercial truck, or a
... ruck, or a stationary vehicle kept outside the buildings and used for the same purpose) and evaluation of fitness for transport.ResultsA total of 360 farmers answered all questions, constituting a homogeneous group of middle-aged, experienced males. The management of the sows seemed rather variable, for example regarding choice of pick-up facility, its available resources, actions taken when sows were not fit for transport and sow conditions leading to doubt about fitness for transport. Special condition transport was only reported rarely, and rejection of sows due to lack of fitness for transport, by drivers or veterinarians at the slaughterhouse, was only rarely experienced.ConclusionThese findings may be used for formulation of hypotheses for future studies in this area characterised by welfare challenges, potentially leading to science-based recommendations relevant for animal welfare, productivity and biosecurity.