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Sask Pork webinar offers timely advice how to keep pigs safe during transport in warm weather

By Bruce Cochrane, Farmscape & Lynn Redl-Huntington

An animal welfare and handling specialist with Olymel says that when the weather turns warm, swine handlers need to step up their preplanning, slow things down and avoid overexertion to minimize stress and maximize comfort of the pigs.

"What You Need to Know About Warm Weather Transport" was the focus of the third installment of Sask Pork’s spring seminar series yesterday

Kevin Brooks, a production manager specializing in animal welfare and handling with Olymel in Humboldt, said that warm weather protocols need to be implemented once temperatures reach 25 Celsius and the first priority is planning.

“We want to make sure we're not giving extra stress to the animals preload so we really want to focus on getting our paperwork all completed, having our transportation, truck and trailers ready to go, shavings spread that's needed, the correct type of boarding removed and only in place where it's needed to reduce lights for the loading process. Just getting everything organized before we start that process so the animals can flow fluently onto the truck once we're ready to start loading and we're not overcrowding areas to cause extra heat or stress to those animals,” said Kevin Brooks.

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 area we look at is cooling down the wood shavings on the trailer preload so when we do get in transport we get a cool smooth airflow over those animals, kind of like stepping out of a pool in the middle of summer, you still want to grab that towel and dry off so that's what we're focused on,” added Brooks, who was raised on a hog farm in Rosthern, Saskatchewan and has over 25 years experience working in large scale hog operations.

“The next thing is we want to make sure we've got small manageable groups. Pigs don't like to be pushed on. They have a natural instinct to want to resist and push back. So, we take smaller groups so that we're not pushing on the pigs and also so the pigs aren't pushing on pigs. We're trying to avoid the herd mentality. Taking smaller groups is a lot easier, therefor the transporter can also move those pigs inside of the transport a lot easier. Taking smaller groups, although you take more groups, it actually speeds up the process and reduces that stress on those animal,” explained Brooks.

Brooks said the payback is less stress on the pigs, the handlers and the transporters and the pigs tend to load batter and are much happier so it's a win all around.

Kevin has recently been a speaker at the Manitoba Swine Seminar and will also be speaking at The Red Deer workshop in October 2023.

Sask Pork’s spring webinar series is available for on on-demand viewing on its YouTube channel.

Source : Saskpork

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