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Animal Science

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Translational Animal Science





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In-transit losses of market hogs represent a small proportion of all market-weight pigs shipped in a year. This suggests that individual pig factors may be a significant cause of in-transit losses along with more traditionally considered environmental and transport factors. An investigation was performed to determine whether cardiac pathology and heart weights were associated with pigs that did or did not die during transport to an abattoir. The hearts from 70 pigs that died in-transit to one Ontario abattoir and 388 pigs that arrived alive were collected and examined. Hearts from pigs that died during transport demonstrated greater frequencies of cardiac lesions (P < 0.05). These included hypertrophy of ventricle walls (Left: 97% vs. 64%; Right: 86% vs. 57%), dilation of ventricle chambers (Left: 79% vs. 0.5%; Right: 100% vs. 5%), and dilation of the pulmonary artery and aorta (59% vs. 1.5%). Total heart weight to body weight ratios were increased (3.6 vs. 3.3 g/kg) and left ventricle plus septum weight over right ventricle weight ratio was decreased in pigs that died during transport over non–in-transit loss pigs (2.5 vs. 2.8; P < 0.05). This may indicate reduced cardiac function in hogs that died during transport. Pigs with reduced cardiac function would have exercise intolerance and be more susceptible to death during transport due to the increased cardiac workload required during sorting, loading, and transport of the pigs to the abattoir. Further research to quantify cardiac function in pigs with cardiac lesions or abnormal heart weight ratios is warranted.


This article is published as Zurbrigg, Kathy, Tony van Dreumel, Max F. Rothschild, David Alves, Robert M. Friendship, and Terri L. O’Sullivan. "Rapid Communication: A comparison of cardiac lesions and heart weights from market pigs that did and did not die during transport to one Ontario abattoir." Translational Animal Science 3, no. 1 (2019): 149-154. doi: 10.1093/tas/txy124.

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
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