Stress occurs when animals are in situations that release their emergency signals for survival, which can be either physiological, behavioral, or physical elements – these situations are called stressors. Although stressed animals may be able to tolerate these for a short period, long-term or multiple stressors can be detrimental.
Studies have shown that the effects of long-term pre-slaughter stress in animals like cattle, pigs and sheep can have negative consequences on livestock performance. Factors like cold weather, fasting, fighting and transit depletes muscle glycogen, resulting in meat which has a higher pH, darker color, and is drier.
The goal is to keep stressed animals to a minimum as much as possible, and we have products to help you do just that. Here, we cover common livestock stressors and the solutions to take care of them.
Solutions for Stressed Animals & Livestock
Stressor: Hot or Cold Weather
Solution: AGRI-AIDE® Ventilation System
Stress caused by hot or cold weather is common and can be minimized by using proper ventilation for confined livestock. If the necessary precautions are not taken, high heat and humidity can lead to losses, and excessively cold weather can increase an animal’s time to market.
An Agri-Aide Ventilation System that includes a combination of exhaust fans, fresh air inlets and circulation fans provides effective ventilation for a variety of livestock housings. Backed by 40 years of research and development and practical experience, an Agri-Aide Ventilation System can offer productive, comfortable livestock environments. We offer various options to match any ventilation requirement needed and can help you develop a new system plan, or improve and maintain your current system.
Not only do our ventilation products provide long-lasting service, they are all designed to meet strict ISO 9001 international quality standards.
Stressor: Cold Pit Drafts
Solution: Stanfield® Heat Mats
If you’ve ever experienced a cold winter with livestock, you understand how severe animal stress can be during this time. Frigid outdoor temperatures can catch producers off guard and enter the building affecting animal body condition and health. Cold drafts rising from the pit during winter are particularly dangerous for newly farrowed piglets.
Osborne Stanfield heat pads are designed with healthy growth in mind, to provide optimal temperatures for young animals in cold weather and reduce stress. These water-resistant, flame-retardant heat mats are made with ultra-tough fiberglass-reinforced composite that offer uniform surface temperatures without the common “hot spots” found in other manufacturers’ products.
A variety of accessories are available for a system of heat mats including automatic controllers that ramp down temperatures at user-specified intervals as baby pigs grow and even an indicator light system that eliminates the need to manually inspect pads for proper operation and heating. These accessories help ensure animals stay healthy and productive and reduce the workload of farm staff.
Stressor: Feeding Aggravation
Solution: Big Wheel® Feeders
Psychological stressors like aggravation or fighting during feeding can have a detrimental effect on animals and meat quality. The negative impact that stress has on feed intake has long been an issue, which is one reason Osborne pioneered mechanical-flow, no-waste pig feeding.
Big Wheel Feeders offer outstanding performance with minimal feed waste. The Big Wheel design requires pigs’ interaction with the feeder—not gravity—to determine feed flow. Additionally, the shoulder space offered to pigs as they eat provides a less stressful experience and removes the factor of unnecessary competition. Because they are spread radially around the feeder and given large trough openings, animals eat with less stress and finish faster.
Stressor: Transporting Market-Ready Animals
Solution: Survey Scale™/Weight Watcher™ System
Handling and transportation of market-ready livestock can be extremely stressful on a psychological level for animals, as fear is a very strong stressor.
The ACCU-ARM® Survey Scale assists producers when it comes time to market animals by automatically predicting future market loads and sorting animals ready for transport. As pigs grow, the Survey Scale measures an individual animal’s weight each time they pass through the scale, rapidly detecting and sorting each animal as they move between their water and feed pens. Once animals have reached their target market weight, they can be easily sorted into a market pen, loaded, and shipped to market. Since the Survey Scale and large pens are part of the animals’ environment throughout the turn, they are not sensitive to changing environments and therefore load for market easily and without stress. Additionally, by taking any manual weighing out of the equation, the process is streamlined and pigs are faced with less handling stress.
Contact the Livestock Experts at Osborne
At Osborne, we understand how important the health of your livestock is, which is why we proudly offer highly engineered feeders, heating pads, ventilation systems, and scales to help decrease animal stress and streamline your processes. To learn more about our livestock equipment and how they can reduce animal stress, please contact us today.