15 October 1999

Pig transport surprises

CURRENT legislation requires pigs to be transported for a maximum of eight hours before resting, feeding and watering. But new research shows longer journeys may not be detrimental to welfare.

Research results published in Vet Record indicate that only pigs travelling for as long as 24 hours showed losses in carcass weight. Bristol vet school researcher, Steve Brown says research was carried out to provide a framework for EC legislation.

Currently pigs can be transported in ordinary lorries for up to eight hours without water or for up to 24 hours with water. "Our results show that pigs could possibly be transported for up to 16 hours without water," says Mr Brown. But pigs transported for 24 hours without access to food or water were quite tired and very hungry, he adds.

In the UK, average journey time is two to four hours. But as smaller slaughter plants close, journey times may increase, says Mr Brown.

"EC transport legislation will come under review shortly, but it is unlikely to change. Long journey times are more of an issue on the Continent than in the UK."