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  • Real Pork Trust Consortium

Humanely Moving Non-Breeding Non-Ambulatory Pigs on Farm


Three mock-ups of the handling tools used to transport non-ambulatory pigs in the study included a deer sled. Graphics are from the thesis work of Ella Akins.


Dr. Anna Kerr Johnson, Professor of Animal Behavior and Welfare at Iowa State University, was part of a research team that sought to understand how to humanely move pigs who refuse to move when on the farm. Their major research findings from this study are detailed below.


Major Findings of the Study

Researchers tested a rescue sked, a revised deer sled, and an ice fishing sled as humane handling tools to move non-ambulatory grow-finish pigs (full-grown pigs that lie down and refuse to move). The researchers found, when testing these handling tools on an operational farm, that all three methods were humane, affordable options for moving non-ambulatory pigs. These tools can save pig caretakers time, reduce stress in pigs, and ultimately lead to a higher quality pork product for consumers.


Why It Matters

Some pigs do not cope well when they are asked to move. These pigs become tired and will lie down (or become non-ambulatory). Caretakers on the farm are not allowed to drag a conscious pig when it becomes non-ambulatory on-farm. These pigs must be humanely moved to a quiet pen to recover.


Practical and efficient solutions are needed to help caretakers transport the pigs to the recovery pen. These solutions must be compassionate to pigs and their needs while considering the well-being of the caretakers and their ability to transport the pigs efficiently. Additionally, the tools used in this study are widely available for farms to purchase without being too expensive.

How the Research Was Conducted

Three handling tools were tested on non-ambulatory pigs on a working farm. Researchers examined pig welfare by collecting metrics such as the amount the pig struggled, vocalizations (how much noise the pig made), panting, and the pigs' body temperature. Using these metrics informed the researchers that all three handling tools did not cause pigs stress when they were placed onto the tool, moved, and rolled off into the recovery pen.


Learn More

To learn more about this study, how it was conducted, and the implications it could have on the pork industry and the meat you consume, read the full article at this link.


Humanely Moving Non-Breeding Non-Ambulatory Pigs on Farm_Johnson_2023_approved
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