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5.1 Reasons and Guidelines for Trucking Animals

Vehicular transport of animals to slaughter is slowly gaining ground in the poorer countries in place of the on-the-hoof method. This is quite evident with sheep, goats and pigs because of difficulties of herding numerous small stock on-the-trotter to slaughter, a practice which also subjects the animals to stress, exhaustion, weight losses and lower quality carcasses.

Road transport featuring special trucks is probably the cheaper, commoner and more convenient means of conveying animals because it affords more direct links with production and marketing centres than does rail or air. A few precautions are worth nothing in road transporting small ruminants to slaughter:

  1. the trucks must be specially designed or conveniently modified to convey the stock;

  2. they should allow ample ventilation and lighting;

  3. if open trucks are used, the top should be covered with a tarpaulin or canvas material to protect the animals from rain and sunshine;

  4. they should have easy loading and off-loading mechanisms to prevent injuries, and above all

  5. they must provide for maximum comfort of the animals.

In loading the trucks, the animals should be kept from a state of excitement. Rushing them in with force or with violent beatings must be avoided: heavy whips often cause bruises which ruin the quality of the meat. A moderate-size flock must be transported at a time. Overloading and overcrowding should not take place: animals get bruised, suffocate or become exhausted when this happens, and over long distances they may lose weight.

Sheep and goats may be trucked together, but should not be mixed with cattle especially the bulky, long-horned type which are apt to squeeze and trample upon them or cause them injuries.

When trucking is routine (i.e. regularly between fixed points) and over long distances clearly defined routes must be followed, these being provided with resting stops for feeding and watering.

On arrival at the slaughter holding ground, they must be discharged, with patience, avoiding all cruelty. Immediately upon off-loading, the animals should be stored out: the sick and fatigued to be placed in special pens and the normal animals in the kraal. Needless to say, the sick animals should regain fitness before being slaughtered.

Should it be necessary to lift and carry the sheep or goat, one hand must be placed under the jaw with the other at the hock. They should not be lifted by grasping the skin or hair as this causes surface bruising. To catch them, a leg must be grabbed first.

The trucks in which the animals are conveyed should be washed and disinfected after the discharge, but if this is not possible, they should be swept thoroughly and sprinkled with sawdust.

5.2 Animal Holding and Care

Physically fit animals that are to be slaughtered within 24 hours must be conveyed direct to the lairage for rest. Those waiting their turn are to be held in a kraal or pen.

During the resting period any excitement must be avoided. Feed must be kept away from the animals at least during the last eight hours before slaughter. However, fresh clean water may be provided throughout the resting time. Ante-mortem inspection should be made during this period or about twelve hours before the animals are delivered to the killing floor.

Rest is important because when animals are overworked or fatigued carcasses of lower quality result from slaughter. The meat is similarly affected if the animals get a heavy “fill” from feeding prior to slaughter. Time must therefore be allowed for the gut to empty itself of bulk at which time fewer nutrients as possible will be present in the blood stream and the cells of the body. With this, spoilage bacteria act less on the carcass, thus reducing the incidence of off-taste and souring.

It should be noted further that when a great deal of food is present in the gut, it makes evisceration difficult. Conversely an empty gut reduces viscera size and makes its removel easier: it also lessens the possibility of spilling the contents of the gut on to the carcass, thus facilitating its cleaning, while eliminating contamination.

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