Animal stress during transport
Various factors can cause stress on market animals when they are transported. Most of these can be avoided by taking precautions to maintain the animals’ sense of stability. Decreasing the affects of stress on market animals when they are being transported can improve the overall market value of the animal.
Marcos Rostagno, a research animal scientist from Purdue University, says transporting animals is indeed stressful on the animals (Rostagno 2009, 2012). Animals going through the transportation process can experience the stress factor of fear.
According to animal scientist Temple Grandin, fear is a common stressor among animals. It can arise from loading and transporting an animal in a trailer. Animals can be stubborn and may not want to enter vehicles. It is important to be calm and patient when loading and unloading animals. Going at the animal’s pace will ease the animal in the strange environment.
Most animals will be transported at least once in their lifetime. Grandin says it is important that the animals do not have a traumatizing experience the first time. This could lead the animals to be fearful of transportation in the future. An animal will be more difficult to load and transport when an animal is fearful. Keeping an animal calm during loading and unloading also protects worker safety.
Many market animals come from a pasture or some other large range area. When animals are accustomed to free roaming it is a big change to keep them where there is limited mobility. For longer trips it may be necessary provide essential nutrients to animals for proper balance and health.
Stress on animals can have a dire affect on the meat product of the animal. Stress has been known to suppress the immune system. A stressed animal is more susceptible to getting sick and having detrimental health. Sick animals do not produce a healthy product for consumers.
Stressed animals are also prone to become dark cutters. The term dark cutter is used to refer to an animal with a meat cut that is darker than average. Dark cutters have a higher pH. The higher pH permits moisture and allows for increased bacterial growth. This results in a reduced shelf life.
It is essential to keep market animals as healthy as possible to produce a quality product in the end. Animals that experience less stress will be healthier. Healthier animals will provide a better product for consumers.
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