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Moving pigs in hot weather requires added attention, says Olymel's Kevin Brooks

An animal welfare and handling specialist with Olymel suggests moving pigs in small groups and focusing on body position, point of balance and flight zones, especially when the weather gets hot, will making moving pigs less stressful on the pigs and the handlers.

"What You Need to Know About Warm Weather Transport" was the focus of the third installment of Sask Pork’s spring seminar series last week. Kevin Brooks, a production manager specializing in animal welfare and handling with Olymel in Humboldt, said the Trucker Quality Assurance program calls for warm weather procedures to be implemented at 27 degrees Celsius but, to provide an added safety margin, Olymel implements those protocols at 25 degrees.

“As we all know hogs don't have functional sweat glands and have a hard time cooling down so they need wind and air. Breeze is their main cooling mechanism so, as the weather gets warmer, we have to make sure we treat these animals in a way that will get them there with low stress so they'll be comfortable for their trip and journey. Much like the pig, when it's really hot, I so don't like to work too hard so it becomes easier,” said Olymel’s Kevin Brooks. “It's easier on the staff, it's easy on the hog and even the transporter so we're not sweating and working overly hard which reduces the stress on us and the animal. They tend to load a lot better and the pigs are much happier as well so it's kind of a win all around. With hogs there's a few key things we've got to remember.”

As part of Brooks’ role at Olywest, he shares practical experience through training and video to engage employees, specializing in all aspects of animal handling in the pork industry. Brooks' works directly with over 60 farms in western Canada, along with transport companies. Olywest has over 57,000 sows in production with a focus of supplying market hogs to Olymel’s Red Deer facility. Brooks has been part of the Olymel team for over 9 years.

“One is bad depth perception so we've got to make sure we've got a smooth transition to the trailers, things that won't make them hesitant. They're also fearful of humans. They're prey animals so we want to make sure we're using our body position, point of balance and flight zones so the pigs are escaping us and going where we want them to go. It's kind of like a little chess match but, at the end of the day, you're making moves to make everyone successful,” added Brooks.

 Brooks acknowledged that it's easy to revert to the old school ways of handling pigs but keeping things simple will make things easier on everyone.

Source : Saskpork

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