Trailer microclimate and calf welfare during fall-run transportation of beef calves in Alberta1,2

C. Goldhawk, E. Janzen, L. A. González, T. Crowe, J. Kastelic, E. Pajor, K. S. Schwartzkopf-Genswein
2014 Journal of Animal Science  
Twenty-four commercial loads of beef calves (BW 300 ± 52 kg, mean ± SD) were evaluated for associations among transportation factors, in-transit microclimate, and calf welfare. Transport factors evaluated included vehicle speed, space allowance, compartment within trailer, and transit duration. Calves were transported for 7 h 44 min ± 4 h 15 min, with space allowances ranging from 0.56 to 1.17 m 2 /animal. Compartment within trailer, space allowance, and vehicle speed did not affect the
more » ... ce between compartment ceiling-level and ambient temperatures during a 30-min period of steady-state microclimate. During the steady-state period, a 1°C increase in ambient temperature above the mean of 5.6°C was associated with a 0.62°C decrease in the difference between ceilinglevel and ambient temperature (P < 0.01). Ceiling-level temperature and humidity during the first 400 min of transport could be predicted by ambient conditions and vehicle speed (pseudo-r 2 of 0.91 and 0.82 for temperature and humidity ratio; P < 0.01). Events when animallevel temperature-humidity index (THI) was classified as above the "danger" level lasted for 10.2 ± 4.1 consecu-tive minutes. Ambient and ceiling-level THI values were not classified as above "danger" for 90.0 and 84.9% of animal-level events. Ambient and ceiling-level THI were 5.0 ± 2.1 and 4.7 ± 2.0°Flower than animal-level THI during periods of disagreement, respectively. The majority of calves arrived in good condition and biochemical indicators of calf welfare were within reference ranges for healthy cattle. Within the study population, high pretransport cortisol and hematocrit were associated with elevated post-transport values (P < 0.01). A 1% increase in shrink during the weaning to loading interval (24 or 48 h) decreased transportation shrink by 0.26 ± 0.04% when average animal-level temperature was greater than 5°C and decreased transportation shrink by 0.11 ± 0.04% when average animal-level temperature was less than 5°C (P < 0.01). We inferred that the study results support future investigation of the extension of in-transit microclimate as a risk factor for post-transport treatment for disease. The study also provided correction factors for estimating in-transit microclimate that could assist in evaluation of transportation management and decisions affecting profitability and calf welfare.
doi:10.2527/jas.2014-7960 pmid:25349358 fatcat:it27x3yyobbhbe6zyor6ewhqyq