Sofia Wilhelmsson defends her thesis: There´s no time to rush! Pigs and transport drivers welfare and interactions during slaughter transport
Loading at slaughter transport is one of the most stressful situations for pigs. Animal transport drivers require a broad set of skills and knowledge on e.g. pig handling. Finding successful ways to train stockpeople in the food production industry is critical in ensuring farm animal welfare, but transport drivers have received very little scientific attention. This thesis investigated Swedish pig transport drivers’ working conditions and interactions between drivers and pigs during loading at slaughter transport, and evaluated the effect of a training intervention on transport drivers’ attitudes, handling methods, physical workload and time efficiency. A broad research approach was applied, with data collected using questionnaires, measurements of physical workload, behavioural observations, workshops and interviews. The results indicated that Swedish pig transport drivers have a physically and psychosocially demanding work, despite high work satisfaction, and that
handling behaviours vary between drivers. Loading, unloading and cleaning the trailer were found to lead to high load on the shoulders and poor on-farm loading area design posed risks to driver wellbeing and pig welfare. Associations were found between negative driver behaviours and stress-related pig behaviours, and between positive driver behaviours and relaxed/explorative pig behaviours. After training, transport drivers showed a tendency for improved attitudes to pig andling and negative driver behaviours decreased while positive behaviours increased. In conclusion, pig transport drivers have good work satisfaction but their physical workload varies, with occasional high load on the shoulders. There is a reciprocal relationship between driver and pig behaviour during slaughter transport loading, and transport drivers’ handling of pigs can be improved through training.
Keywords: anthrozoology, behaviour, handling, pig, transport driver, training, interaction, slaughter transport, workload, working environment
Author’s address: Sofia Wilhelmsson, SLU, Department of Animal Environment and Health, P.O. Box 234, 532 23 Skara, Sweden