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Transportation of cull sows-a descriptive study of the clinical condition of cull sows before transportation to slaughter Katrine K. Fogsgaard, Mette S. Herskin, and Karen Thodberg Department of Animal Science, Aarhus University, Tjele 8330, Denmark ABSTRACT: Each year 500.000 sows, equal to median parity of 5 (range: 1–11), from 12 Danish 50% of Danish sows, are culled and transported farms were included in the study. Approximately, to slaughter. However, the clinical condition, 10% showed signs of changed gait, and 0.8% were behavior, and welfare of cull sows have received obvious lame. Wounds were observed in 54.6% of almost no scientific attention. The aim of the the sows, and 11% had decubital shoulder ulcers. current observational study was to describe the Almost 40% of the cull sows were lactating. At clinical condition of cull sows on the day of trans- culling, the lactating sows were of higher parity portation to slaughter, including examination of than the nonlactating sows, and lactating sows possible differences between lactating and non- were at higher risk of having deviations from nor- lactating sows. On the day of transportation, mal on clinical variables related to examination the participating farms were visited by trained of the udder, such as udder swellings and inflam - technicians who conducted a thorough clinical mations. Nonlactating sows had 3.5 times more examination of all sows selected by the farmer superficial skin lesions than lactating sows. Our for slaughter. Four sows could not be trans- findings warrant for further studies exploring dif - ported because they were unfit according to the ferent aspects of the life of cull sows in what is European Council Regulation regarding fitness here defined as the The Cull Period, which is the for transportation, and they were not included interval from the culling decision is made until in the present data. A total of 522 sows, with a the sows are slaughtered Key words: animal transportation, animal welfare, cull sows, preslaughter logistic chain, slaughter © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Society of Animal Science. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. For commercial re-use, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org Transl. Anim. Sci. 2018.2:280–289 doi: 10.1093/tas/txy057 discussed by Lambooij, 2014). Especially cull INTRODUCTION swine may be vulnerable to transportation stress International pig production is character- (Grandin, 2016; McGee et al., 2016). However, ized by increasing herd sizes and changes in the despite the large proportion of cull sows each year slaughter industry toward fewer and larger units (500.000 sows, equal to 50% of the population, and, as a consequence hereof, transportation dis- Statistics Denmark, https://www.statistikbanken. tances from farm to slaughter are increasing (as dk/ANI9) and the focus on the economic aspects of culling strategies (Lucia et al. 2000a, 2000b; Engblom et al., 2007; Zhao et al., 2015), behavior, Corresponding author: email@example.com and welfare of cull sows have received almost no Received April 7, 2018. Accepted May 1, 2018. scientific attention. Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/tas/article-abstract/2/3/280/4991918 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 31 July 2018 281 Clinical condition of cull sows Reproductive problems, reduced health, and on database information about sow herds and age are among the major reasons reported for cull- livestock transportation publically available from ing (de Jong et al., 2014; Zhao et al., 2015), and the Danish Ministry of Environment and Food. a large proportion of sows are culled right after Further inclusion criteria for the herds were use of weaning their last litter (Engblom et al., 2007; de the preselected large slaughter plant and delivery of Hollander et al., 2015). The post-transportation minimum eight cull sows per load. All herds used clinical condition of cull sows has been reported either electronic sow feeders, sow feeding systems (Cleveland-Nielsen et al., 2004; Knauer et al., 2007), with feed stalls, wet feeding in long troughs, or floor and McGee et al. (2016) found that cull sows—as feeding for their gestating sows. Within the group compared with market weight animals—made up of potential candidate herds, one herd at a time was the majority of swine arriving as fatigued, lame, randomly chosen within each postal code area and or in a very low body condition at U.S. buying sta- distance category and contacted by email or phone. tions. However, only very little is known about the Study enrollment depended upon acceptance from clinical condition of cull sows before being loaded the herd owner. For each of the involved herds, onto trucks destined for slaughter. This may seem selection of animals to be slaughtered was made by paradoxical, as such information is highly relevant the farmer. Based on an approval from the Danish for the assessment of fitness for transportation. Animal Experiments Inspectorate (license num- According to EU legislation (Council Regulation, ber: 2014-15-0201-00172), we were allowed not to EC 1/2005) as well as industry guidelines and OIE comply with specific Danish requirements regard - guidelines (as reviewed by Grandin, 2016), sows ing sow fitness for transportation (Law nr 520, must be fit for transportation, and obviously, ill or 26/05/2010; Anonymous, 2014) and only had to injured sows are not considered fit. Sows that are take into account the European Council Regulation slightly ill or injured may, though, be considered fit (Council Regulation, EC 1/2005). Hence, sows for transportation. with large uncrusted wounds (diameter >5 cm), The aim of the current study was to describe prolapses, rectal temperature >40.5 °C, sows not the clinical condition of cull sows on the day of being able to take support on all four legs, sows transportation to slaughter and to examine possi- that had given birth in the previous week, and sows ble differences between lactating and nonlactating for whom at least 90% of the pregnancy period had sows. The study was part of an observational study passed could not be included in the data set. of transportation of cull sows (Herskin et al., 2017; Thodberg et al., 2017). Clinical Protocol On the day of transportation, each herd was MATERIALS AND METHODS visited, and sow-related information such as par- ity was obtained from the farmer. Trained techni- cians conducted a thorough clinical examination Herds and Animals of all animals selected for slaughter. The clinical examination was divided into three parts: 1) scored The study was designed as an observational from a distance of 1–2 m before touching the sow, study involving sows from private Danish herds 2) scored while the sow was standing, and 3) scored and with a target sample size of 500 sows and a while the sow was walking in the aisle. maximum of five loads per herd. “Part 1” included measures of general body The primary inclusion criterion for involved condition. First, any deviation from normal con- herds was their geographical location stratified dition was described in words. Afterward, respi- according to the distance to a large slaughter plant ration frequency (number per 30 s), respiration (four distance categories of expected duration of quality (normal [8–18 breaths/min], strained/forced transportation: 0–2, 2–4, 4–6, or 6–8 h). These dis- [including abdominal movements], or superficial tance categories were selected to cover the range [involving only thorax]), and abnormalities in the of transportation time (up to 8 h) allowed for head region, such as asymmetry, swellings, or flux cull sows in Denmark (Law nr 520, 26/05/2010; from the snout, were registered. Body condition Anonymous, 2014). Within each distance cat- was scored on a scale from 1–4, including 0.5 meas- egory, six municipalities were randomly selected, ures (modified from SEGES I/S, Denmark). If the and within each of these, a postal code area was sow was lying, we noted her ease of getting up as randomly chosen. Potential experimental herds either normal or not, and the technicians assessed were identified within the resulting 24 areas based Translate basic science to industry innovation Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/tas/article-abstract/2/3/280/4991918 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 31 July 2018 282 Fogsgaard et al. the sow’s eyesight and hearing by waving and clap- located in the shoulder area were described by use ping the hands in front of her. of a specific protocol (described by Jensen et al., “Part 2” of the clinical examination included 2011). The shoulder area was restricted to the area rectal temperature (°C), heart rate (beats per 20 s), of the size of a hand surrounding the Spina scap- possible abnormality in the shape and volume of ula, and the number of wounds within this area was the belly (yes/no), and if an umbilical outpouch- counted (criteria for two wounds: crusts visually ing was present, we noted its height and perimeter. separable). The type of wound was categorized as For all sows, the udder was examined, including either a decubital shoulder ulcer (relatively rounded distance between floor and the lowest part of the wound) or other types of wounds. Redness and udder, number of teats with milk, and number of swelling (including categorization as either soft or udder lesions. Acute inflammation of the udder hard based on palpation) of the skin area surround- was noted as well as signs of swelling, asymmetry, ing a shoulder wound were registered. Differences soreness, flux, color, and signs of chronic udder between left and right shoulder, resulting in asym- inflammation. metrical shoulders, were recorded when the sow was Hair cover (normal/long) and the color of the standing normally on all four legs. Redness of the body skin were registered (normal, pale, red, or skin close to the wound as well as presence of crust cyanotic). Elasticity of the skin, as a sign of dehy- were noted, and we measured the wound diameter dration status, was recorded by pinching the body (boarder to boarder). skin carefully and quantifying the interval until the “Part 3” of the clinical examination was con- skin recoiled (s). To gain information about the ducted when the sows were moved from their blood circulation, skin temperature of the distant home pen to the pick-up facility just before being third part of the ear and a hind limb below the knee loaded for transportation, and lameness was scored was noted as either warmer or colder than the pal- on a 4-point scale (Karlen et al., 2007; Table 1). pating hand. Additionally, a mucosa pressure test According to the European Council Regulation was done by pressing the mucosa skin and subse- (Council Regulation, EC 1/2005), sows with lame- quently quantifying the interval to color normal- ness score 3 cannot be transported. ization. If present, vulva lesions and color of flux from vulva were recorded together with the color Statistical Analysis of the vaginal mucosa. We noted the presence of Descriptive statistics were generated by the abnormal muscle volume on the legs, the number procedures PROC Freq and PROC Means in of torn hoofs, damaged hoofs, and coronary band SAS Enterprise Guide software version 5.1. (SAS lesions. Institute Inc., Cary, NC). The results are presented To quantify the number of skin lesions, we as means and SE for normally distributed variables divided the body of each sow into three parts: and as medians (MED) and interquartile ranges front (from snout to shoulder), middle (from shoul- (IQR) for the remaining variables. der until hind legs), and hind (from hind legs to For each of the following continuous variables: tail). For each body part, the number of wounds rectal temperature, respiration rate, heart rate, par- (skin lesions involving at least dermis and larger ity, latency to normalization in the mucosa pressure than 1 cm) and elongated superficial skin lesions test, latency to recoil in the skin elasticity test, as (restricted to epidermis and longer than 5 cm) was well as distance between oor fl and lowest part of counted. The latter was right censored if 15 or more udder, a mixed model was used to test the effect superficial skin lesions were counted per body part . of lactation status (lactating/nonlactating) (PROC For each wound, we noted whether crust, bleed- MIXED). Herd was included as a random factor ing, redness, swelling, or flux was present. Wounds Table 1. Description of the lameness scoring scale applied to access lameness in sows SCORE Description 0 Normal ability to stand and move; symmetrical limb movements 1 Normal ability to stand and move; legs bearing weight similarly but compromised movement 2 Moderately lame: obviously reduced ability to stand; movement diminished or difficult; unwillingness to bear weight on affected leg(s); frequent weight shifting 3 (Not fit for transport) Severely lame: compromised ability to stand and move; one or more nonweight-bearing limbs, often with swollen joints; stiffness; frequent vocalizations if made to move. Scale modified from Karlen et al., 2007. Translate basic science to industry innovation Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/tas/article-abstract/2/3/280/4991918 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 31 July 2018 283 Clinical condition of cull sows in all models. Variance homogeneity and distribu- 11 with a median of 5 (IQR = 3). An overview of tion of the residuals were used to evaluate the valid- the main results from the clinical examination is ity of the statistical model for each variable. Degrees presented in Table 2 and Figure 1. of freedom were calculated using Satterthwaite’s approximation. Results from the mixed models are Body and Limbs reported as least squares means (LSMEANS) and SE as well as F (df , df ) and the correspond- Almost 99% of the sows had normal skin color, treatment error ing P values. and none were categorized as cyanotic based on For categorical variables, the category describ- skin color (Table 2). Only one sow had an umbili- ing the healthy or normal condition was set to cal outpouching. Overall, 54.6% of all sows had zero. To examine differences between lactating and at least one wound on the body, excluding wounds nonlactating cull sows, a new binomial (0/1) vari- in the shoulder and udder region, and the number able was created for each measure. We analyzed of wounds on the body was not affected by lacta- this binomial variable in a generalized linear mixed tion status (N = 522, MED = 1, IQR = 1, P > 0.1). model (PROC GLIMMIX) with lactation status as Characteristics of the wounds are shown in Table 3. dependent and herd treated as a random factor. This For 97.5% of the sows, no redness or swelling of the was done for the following variables: occurrence of skin was identified ( N = 519, range: 0–4 red/swollen wounds, superficial skin lesions or reddened skin areas). Due to the low prevalence, redness was not areas summed across the whole body, lesions on analyzed further. A total of 73 wounds were found in udder or vulva, signs of acute udder inflammation, the shoulder region of 60 sows, and descriptive char- abnormal leg muscle volume, and lameness score. acteristics of these are presented in Table 3. Seventy- In addition, a new udder variable was created (due one of the wounds were categorized as decubital to low representation in the data) summing udder shoulder ulcers. A little less than one-third of the abnormality, redness, and signs of chronic udder sows (30.8%) had at least one superficial skin lesion. inflammation. The results are presented as odds Discharge from vulva is typically seen in the days ratios and SE. after farrowing and was found in 12% (N = 62) of all All statistical analyses were performed with sows with around half of these having transparent SAS Enterprise Guide software (version 5.1, SAS fluid ( N = 30) and the remaining white or brown- Institute Inc.). Across all analyses, differences were ish fluid ( N = 32). Although expected, there was no considered statistically significant if P < 0.05 and effect of lactation status (F = 0.9, P = 0.35) on considered a tendency if 0.05 ≤ P < 0.1. the occurrence or type of vulva discharge. Findings related to vulva are listed in Table 2. The examination of the udders revealed that RESULTS 25.5% of the sows had at least one udder lesion. Four sows could not be transported because We recorded acute udder inflammation in 4% of they were unfit according to the European Council the sows, udder soreness in 1.3%, and 17.4% of the Regulation regarding fitness for transportation sows had other udder problems (e.g., chronic udder (Council Regulation, EC 1/2005) (one sow with a inflammation [2.5%], asymmetrical udder [11.5%], large shoulder ulcer, two severely lame sows [lame- or swollen mammary glands [3.4%]). ness score 3], and one sow with a rectal tempera- Most sows had normal hoof length, but 7.3% ture above 40.5 °C). These sows stayed on-farm, had long hoofs (Table 2). Furthermore, three sows and their clinical examinations were terminated had had at least one hoof torn off or damaged, and as soon as the criteria for unfit for transportation one sow had a wound on the coronary band. Of were met and therefore excluded from the data. the 293 sows that were lying at the beginning of the We included 522 sows from 12 private sow herds clinical examination, 3% were not able to get up in located in Jutland and Funen, Denmark and vis- a normal way, but all sows were able to stand on ited in the period from January 2015 to February their own. Lameness scores ranged from 0 to 2 on 2016. A total of 47 visits were performed with an the 4-point scale (Table 2). average of 3.9 visits per herd of which three herds were visited only once. On average, 11.1 sows were Effect of Lactation Status examined per visit. Mean herd size consisted of 729 (410–1400) animals, including sows, boars, and Almost 4 out of 10 (39%) sows were lactat- gilts. Information on parity was available from 70% ing at the time of the clinical examination. At of the sows. Within these, parity ranged from 1 to culling, the lactating sows had a higher parity Translate basic science to industry innovation Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/tas/article-abstract/2/3/280/4991918 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 31 July 2018 284 Fogsgaard et al. Table 2. Results of the on-farm clinical examin- than the nonlactating sows (LSM: 5.5 ± 0.3 vs. ation of 522 cull sows on the day of transportation 4.6 ± 0.3 for lactating and nonlactating, respec- to slaughter tively; F = 12.0, P = 0.0006). To evaluate the 1,349 possible differences between lactating and nonlac- Percentage tating cull sows regarding a range of categorical Clinical measure of sows, % variables, we calculated the odds of deviating from General condition Normal 97.3 the clinical healthy category. The results show that Other 1.0 NA 1.7 nonlactating cull sows had 3.5 times more super- Body condition score ≤2 3.4 ficial skin lesions (MED = 0, IQR = 0; lactating lactating >2–<4 88.8 MED = 0, IQR = 3; F = 24.8, nonlactating nonlactating 1,507 4 13.0 P < 0.0001) but 0.13 times fewer udder lesions NA 1.7 (MED = 0.5, IQR = 2; MED = 0, lactating lactating nonlactating Respiration quality Normal 97.9 IQR = 0; F = 63.6, P < 0.0001) compared nonlactating 1,499 Forced 0.6 with lactating sows. Furthermore, nonlactating Superficial 0.8 sows were 2.3 times more likely to have a lameness NA 0.8 score different from 0 compared with lactating sows Head shape Normal 99.2 (N = 508, F = 5.2, P = 0.02). The rectal temper- Asymmetry/swellings 0.4 1,495 ature (37.7 °C [range: 33.2–40.4] vs. 38.0 °C [range: NA 0.4 36.6–40.1], F = 6.7, P = 0.01) and respiration Belly shape Normal 99.0 1,484 Abnormal 0.2 frequency (16 vs. 17 breaths per 30 s, F = 4.6, 1,505 NA 0.8 P = 0.03) were significantly lower for lactating com - Body hair cover Normal 92.5 pared and nonlactating sows. Long 3.8 Likewise, the odds for udder swellings, asym- NA 3.6 metrical udder, and chronical udder inflammation Hoof length Normal 92.3 were 0.19 for nonlactating compared with lactat- Long 7.3 ing sows (F = 27.9, P < 0.0001). The distance 1,506 NA 0.4 from the floor to the lowest part of the udder was Length of accessory Normal 92.7 found to be 19.7 cm in lactating sows and was digits Long 6.9 higher (24.3 cm) for nonlactating (F = 99.9, NA 0.4 1,475 P < 0.0001). Lameness score 0:Normal 87.0 1:Abnormal gait 9.6 2:Lame 0.8 DISCUSSION NA 2.7 The present study is among the first to examine Leg muscle volume Normal 84.5 Abnormal on one leg 8.8 the clinical condition of cull sows from commercial Abnormal on more than 5.9 herds before mixing and transportation to slaugh- one leg ter and included data from 522 sows collected over NA 0.8 a year from 12 private Danish herds. The parity of Vulva lesions None 92.3 the sows ranged from 1 to 11, and almost 40% of the >1 7.3 cull sows came directly from the farrowing unit and NA 0.4 were lactating on the day of transportation. Four Vulva smell No smell 96.2 sows were unfit for transportation, according to the Smell 1.0 European Council Regulation regarding fitness for NA 2.7 transportation (Council Regulation, EC 1/2005), Color of mucosa Normal 95.4 Pinkish 1.7 and were not included in this data set. Among the Pale 1.9 remaining sows, 10% showed signs of changed Very red 0.4 gait, and 0.9% were lame. We observed wounds in Bluish – 54.6%, decubital shoulder ulcers in 11%, superficial NA 0.6 skin lesions in 30.8%, and vulva lesions in 7% of the sows. The observed occurrence of lesions calls for NA = data not available for this measure. further investigation of the welfare of sows in the Scale 0–3; Two sows could not be transported due to lameness last part of their life, which until now has received score 3 and stayed on-farm. This data set contains only animals sent for slaughter. almost no scientific attention. Translate basic science to industry innovation Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/tas/article-abstract/2/3/280/4991918 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 31 July 2018 285 Clinical condition of cull sows sows in Denmark. However, some inferences can be drawn based on the random selection of the farms and the sample size of more than 500 animals from different herds destined for 47 transportations to slaughter. Until now, the clinical condition of sows has been described during production, like in stud- ies of gestating sows (Chapinal et al., 2010; Nalon et al., 2013), or upon arrival at a slaughter plant (Cleveland-Nielsen et al., 2004; Knauer et al., 2007; de Jong et al., 2014; McGee et al., 2016). When comparing our findings with such studies, it seems that the parity range of the present data set (1–11, with a median of 5) corresponds to other studies of cull sows (de Jong et al., 2014; Zhao et al., 2015). Despite this similarity, and the knowledge from the present study, we need future epidemiological stud- ies in order to fully determine the prevalence of the different clinical conditions among cull sows while they are still on-farm. In the present data set, decubital shoulder ulcers were observed in 11% of the sows. To date, no stud- ies have provided information about the presence of decubital shoulder ulcers in cull sows before trans- portation to slaughter but only described the con- dition in studies focusing on lactating sows (Bonde, 2008; Ivarsson et al., 2009; Kilbride et al., 2009). Decubital shoulder ulcers have been associated with behavioral changes (Larsen et al., 2015) and are suggested to be painful (Herskin et al., 2011; Dahl-Pedersen et al., 2013). The consequences of pretransportation conditions/activities and actual transportation for sows with decubital shoulder ulcers are not studied. Mixing, fighting, and stand - ing in the moving truck are likely to result in wors- ening of the ulcers, as the ulcers might be torn open or to be perceived more painful due to mechanical pressure/“bumping into inventory.” This means that even though the ulcers observed in the pres- ent study would not, according to the present legal practice, render the animals unfit for transportation due to the size of the ulcers (Council Regulation, EC 1/2005), the presence of ulcers and perhaps even scars may have adverse consequences for the sows in the period from the decision to cull until Figure 1. Results of the on-farm clinical examination of cull sows slaughter. The relatively high percentage of sows on the day of transportation to slaughter. The number of sows exam- with decubital shoulder ulcers in the present data ined for each variable is noted on the y-axis. One sow could not be transported due to rectal temperature above 40.5 °C. This data set con- set shows that not only the period from the clin- tains only animals sent for slaughter. ical examination until slaughter but also the weeks before the clinical examination, where the ulcers are developing (as reviewed by Herskin et al., 2011), To the best of our knowledge, no studies have need increased focus in terms of prevention of ulcer described the clinical condition of cull sows while development. still on-farm. Due to the study design of the pres- Cull sows have been suggested to be more vul- ent data set, this paper does not provide a repre- nerable to transportation stress than other groups sentative picture of the general condition of cull Translate basic science to industry innovation Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/tas/article-abstract/2/3/280/4991918 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 31 July 2018 286 Fogsgaard et al. Table 3. Results of the on-farm clinical examin- weight (Lykke et al., 2007; McGee et al., 2016), and ation of 522 cull sows on the day of transportation the fact that a considerable proportion of the cull to slaughter animals are lactating at the time of transportation (OIE, 2016). As cull sows and market weight pigs Percentage of a differ in a range parameters (e.g., weight, maturity, Wounds (shoulder excluded) wounds, % health), it may not be unexpected that no direct Wound characteristic Crust 45.8 comparisons are available, but the clinical charac- Bleeding 21.4 Redness 2.8 teristics of the two groups may differ considerably Swollen 38.7 (as exemplified by, i.e., the occurrence of decubital NA 0.9 shoulder ulcers and udder lesions in the sows and a Percentage of reported relatively high prevalence of tail injury in Wounds in shoulder region wounds, % market weight pigs; Harley et al., 2012). Type of wound Decubital ulcer 97.2 Further studies, involving the collection of data Other 1.4 from the same animals before and after transporta- Not determined 1.4 tion, are needed to clarify the vulnerability of cull Percentage of sows toward transportation, potentially including Decubital shoulder ulcers wounds, % comparison with other groups of swine that are Skin area reddened No 76.1 transported (such as roaster pigs (Peterson et al., Yes 19.7 2017), heavy slaughter pigs (Martelli et al., 2005), NA 4.2 Swelling in skin area No 80.3 or weaners (Sutherland et al., 2009)). Such knowl- Yes, soft 16.9 edge is highly relevant, as the European legislation Yes, hard 0.0 regarding fitness for transportation is not specified NA 2.8 for certain types of animals. In addition, such stud- Asymmetrical shoulder No 94.4 ies would provide knowledge about the involved Yes 2.8 risk factors of a potential worsening of the clinical NA 2.8 condition of slightly injured sows (as would proba- Crust on wound No 21.1 bly be considered the case for the sows with lesions Yes 76.1 from the present data set) and hence knowledge NA 2.8 about the risk of violating EU legislation on ani- Redness on edge of No 83.9 wound mal fitness for transportation ( Council Regulation, Yes 18.3 EC 1/2005). NA 2.8 Diameter of wound 0–2 cm 53.5 Even though almost half of the sow popula- 2–5 cm 46.5 tion is culled yearly as part of modern sow produc- >5 – tion (Lucia et al., 2000a and 2000b; Rodriguez-Zas NA – et al., 2003), the management and welfare of this Median 2.0 group of animals have received very limited sci- IQR 1.0 entific attention. At present, very little is known Range 1–5 cm about the duration of the interval from the deci- sion to cull a sow is taken until she is either slaugh- This table covers the descriptive characteristics for wounds and decubital shoulder ulcers. NA = Data not available for this measure. tered or euthanized, and no studies have examined Total of 533 wounds (excluding wounds in the shoulder area) from typical housing of sows during this period, last- 285 sows. ing hours to weeks, or examined how sows should Total of 73 wounds located in the shoulder region of 60 sows. be managed in order to maximize animal welfare Total of 71 decubital shoulder ulcers from 58 sows. and carcass quality. The present results show that Diameter of decubital shoulder lesions. One sow could not be even though only very few sows were in a condi- transported due to a decubital shoulder ulcer larger than 5 cm in diam- eter. This data set contains only animals sent for slaughter. tion leaving them unfit for transportation accord - ing to European legislation (Council Regulation, of swine (Nielsen et al., 2011; Grandin, 2016) based EC 1/2005), a considerable proportion of the sows on increased mortality upon arrival at a slaugh- had shoulder and vulva injuries. This suggests that ter plant (Lykke et al., 2007; Malena et al., 2007; increased attention directed toward the health and Peterson et al., 2017). This is supported by more welfare of these animals in their last days or weeks specific characteristics, such as increased occur - of life is needed in order to optimize the quality of rence of fatigue and lameness or very low BCS the carcasses and avoid foregone revenue (as dis- among cull sows compared with swine of market cussed by Peterson et al., 2017). We suggest a more Translate basic science to industry innovation Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/tas/article-abstract/2/3/280/4991918 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 31 July 2018 287 Clinical condition of cull sows clearly delimitation of the period in the sow’s life— to continue production. In their recommendations The Cull Period—from when the decision is made regarding transportation of livestock, OIE speci- by the farmer that she should be culled, regardless fies the need of lactating females for special protec - of the reason, until the sow is dead. tion before as well as during transportation (OIE, The clinical condition of sows in The Cull 2016). Future studies should focus on management Period is highly important and may be subjective to of newly weaned sows in order to examine whether rapid changes due to the different links in the pre- these animals can sustain the challenges associated slaughter chain in the days and hours before being with mixing and transportation this early after ces- picked up by a commercial truck transporting sows sation of lactation. to slaughter. Recently, Herskin et al. (2017) studied The lactating sows in our study had a higher behavior of cull sows while kept—for biosecurity body temperature compared with the nonlactating reasons—in transfer vehicles before being picked sows, which could suggest that they were at a greater up by a commercial truck. By use of data from 106 risk of hyperthermia during a subsequent transpor- of the sows from the present data set, Herskin et al. tation. Modern lactating sows are, due to the large (2017) suggested that the use of such vehicles can litter sizes and increased genetic potential for milk be associated with limited rest for the animals and production, more sensitive toward heat stress than a high level of aggression. Engaging in aggressive sows just a few decades ago (Brown-Brandl et al., behavior will entail a greater risk of skin lesions for 2014) and especially just before commercial wean- sows compared with market weight pigs, as the risk ing (approximately 4 weeks after farrowing) when of lesions increases with increasing BW (Turner milk production is peaking (Williams et al., 2013). et al., 2006). Examination of heat production of sows has shown Future studies should focus on different aspects a steady increase from farrowing until weaning of the life of cull sows in the interval from the cull- (Brown-Brandl et al., 2014). Recently, this knowl- ing decision is made until the animals have died. edge has led to increased focus on the susceptibility Only this way, we can establish knowledge and a of lactating sows toward heat stress (e.g., Rosero basis for evidence-based decisions aiming to opti- et al., 2012; Jeon and Kim, 2014; Cabezon et al., mize the welfare of the animals in their last days or 2017). However, despite the large proportion of lac- weeks as well as to optimize the meat quality and tating animals, no studies have focused on the suscep- value of the end product. tibility of cull sows toward heat stress. Hyperthermia In the present data, almost 4 out of 10 sows were has been suggested to be among the main reasons for lactating on the day of transportation and came dir- cull sow mortality before arrival to a slaughter plant ectly from the farrowing barn. Based on results from (or immediately upon arrival) (Peterson et al., 2017), de Hollander et al. (2015) and Engblom et al. (2007), emphasizing that possible links between sow fitness this was not unexpected, but the consequences in for transportation, lactation, and environmental terms of clinical differences and potential differences temperature need further attention. in vulnerability toward transportation stress have We suggest that future research should focus on not been examined before. The present results show whether cull sows, taken almost directly from the a number of differences between the lactating and farrowing barn into the trucks transporting them nonlactating cull animals, such as fewer superficial to slaughter, are able to cope with the different links skin lesions in the lactating sows, signs of increased in the preslaughter logistic chain and whether they rectal temperature, and respiration as well as larger may benefit in terms of animal welfare or carcass udder size and increased occurrence of udder swell- quality from being rested for some days on-farm ings and udder inflammation. In sows, discomfort before transportation to slaughter. related to the abrupt cessation of lactation taking place at weaning has received very limited scientific CONCLUSION attention, as compared with, for example, dairy cows where milk leakage and reduced lying time The present study examined the clinical condi- have been reported after abrupt cessation of milking tion of cull sows from commercial herds before mix- (e.g., Leitner et al., 2007; Zobel et al., 2013). For cull ing and transportation to slaughter and included sows, which are typically mixed with other sows and data from 522 sows. The present findings warrant transported to slaughter either on the day of wean- for further studies exploring different aspects of ing or shortly after, the challenge from the abrupt the life of cull sows in the interval from the culling cessation of lactation might be even larger than for decision is made until the animals have died, which sows that are moved to another part of the barn we here denote The Cull Period. This in order to Translate basic science to industry innovation Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/tas/article-abstract/2/3/280/4991918 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 31 July 2018 288 Fogsgaard et al. Herskin, S. M., K. K. Fogsgaard, D. Erichsen, M. Bonnichsen, establish a knowledge base for evidence-based deci- C. Gaillard, and K. Thodberg. 2017. 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Translational Animal Science – Oxford University Press
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