The broad aim of this study was to determine whether bedding level in the transport trailer influenced pig performance and welfare. Specifically, the objective was to define the bedding requirements of pigs during transportation in commercial settings during cold and mild weather. Animals (n = 112,078 pigs on 572 trailers) used were raised in commercial finishing sites and transported in trailers to commercial processing plants. Dead on arrival (DOA), non-ambulatory (NA), and total dead and down (D&D) data were collected and skin surface temperatures of the pigs were measured by infrared thermography. Data were collected during winter (Experiment 1) and fall/spring (Experiment 2). Total D&D percent showed no interaction between bedding level and outside air temperature in any experiments. Average skin surface temperature during unloading increased with outside air temperature linearly in both experiments (P < 0.01). In conclusion, over-use of bedding may be economically inefficient. Pig skin surface temperature could be a useful measure of pig welfare during or after transport.
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