So far this summer in Alberta, extreme heat has not been an issue, but each summer, heat waves and humidity can quickly pose a challenge to maintaining animal welfare in transportation.
For example, over the coming week, weather forecasts for most central and southern parts of the province call for temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius and humidity above 50% at times. According to the table below, these conditions would be considered “alert” or even “dangerous”.
When it is hot and humid, optimum care and attention is required for pigs. When loading your trailer, consideration should be given to bedding and ventilation, as recommended below.
Unlike humans, pigs are not able to regulate their body temperature by sweating. If you transport pigs, consult our Fact sheet on transporting pigs in extreme heat to know what to do and what not to do during this naturally stressful time.
Livestock transporters are legally required to follow the Animal Health Regulationsas a member of Animal Health Act. It is worth noting in this case the requirements for feed, water and rest. Additionally, the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) Code of practice for the care and handling of pigs Section 8.6 includes recommendations for transporting pigs.
It is important that anyone transporting pigs knows all the requirements and recommendations before embarking on a road trip. Please take care to verify this information before leaving and before the situation becomes urgent.
- Check the weather forecast before planning your trip.
- Select the best time to make the trip, taking into account the temperature at departure and the expected arrival.
- Consider installing the trailer with wet bedding in accordance with the temperature recommendations described on page 33 of the Transportation Quality Assurance (TQA) Program Manual Version Seven and in the table above. This is recommended only in hot weather.
- Reduce load density (amount of pigs in the trailer at a time). For instance, pigs weighing 300 pounds (or 136 kilograms) should have five square feet (or 1.5 square meters) of space eachin accordance with the recommendations described on page 29 of the TQA program manual of the seventh version.
- If the temperature is above 27 degrees Celsius, wet the pigs during or after loading. To note: excess humidity could have the opposite effect! Use water sparingly, allowing pigs to dry out before getting wet again.
- Do not apply a large amount of cold water to an overheated pig, as this could shock and kill the animal. Always use a light mist or low water flow.
- Once your trailer is loaded, travel as quickly as possible to your destination. Do not stop en route for other business or leisure.
- Keep the truck moving as much as possible to maintain airflow through the trailer.
- When you need to stop the truck, avoid parking near other large objects that block airflow or compromise biosecurity, including other animal transport trucks. If possible, remove trailer panels to maintain air circulation and, if you’re waiting in a slaughterhouse, take advantage of the water sprinklers and fan banks available.
- If the weather changes during transport, remove or add trailer panels to accommodate the varying temperature in the trailer.
- If you want additional hands-on instruction on transporting pork, Alberta Pork offers free TQA training, in addition to providing an overview of humane transport requirements under federal law. Animal Health Regulations.
For questions about transporting pork in Alberta, including the TQA program, please contact Cristina NevaQuality Assurance and Production Specialist, Alberta Pork via email at [email protected] or by phone at 780-440-8459free of charge at 1-877-247-PORC (7675).