Simple Summary In Europe, many horses travel long distances to reach a slaughterhouse and it is claimed that many of them are unbroken and travel in poor conditions. Hypothesizing that journey conditions would be crucial to protecting the welfare of unbroken horses, this study aimed to describe their journeys and journey conditions, document their welfare status on arrival at a slaughterhouse, and investigate possible associations between journey conditions and welfare issues. A protocol to assess the welfare of the transported horses at unloading and during lairage was developed and applied on a total of 395 unbroken draft horses from 20 different consignments at a slaughterhouse in Southern Italy. The average journey duration was 34 h, coming from France and Poland. Trucks were well equipped and driven by experienced staff, while horses traveled loose and in small groups. At arrival, the horses self-unloaded and the prevalence of health problems was minimal (1.52% injuries; 4.30% nasal discharge; 6.58% abnormal feces). Space allowance, lack of feeding during transport, and cold temperatures were determined to be the main risk factors for their health and welfare. When unbroken horses travel over a long distance, the way in which they are transported (i.e., journey conditions) is crucial and must be maintained at a high standard to minimize the risk of the animals' welfare becoming compromised. Transportation of horses to slaughterhouses can pose a welfare concern, in particular when horses are unbroken/unhandled. This study aimed to describe their journeys and journey conditions, document their welfare status on arrival in a slaughterhouse in Italy, and investigate possible associations between journey conditions and welfare issues. A total of 395 unbroken draft horses in 20 different consignments were assessed with a standardized protocol. The most common departure point (16/20 consignments, 80%) was a French assembly center, but many of these horses had Spanish passports, suggesting they had previously been transported from Spain to France. The average journey duration was 34 +/- 14 h, including journey breaks (i.e., short stops inside the vehicle and long resting stops at control posts), while transit time was 24 +/- 4 h. The drivers were well experienced, the trucks were well equipped (i.e., forced ventilation, drinkers), and the horses traveled loose in small groups (n <= 4 horses) within pens inside the vehicle. On arrival at the slaughterhouse, the horses self-unloaded and showed minimal behavioral and health problems. The prevalence of injuries, diarrhea/abnormal feces, and nasal discharge were 1.52%, 6.58%, and 4.30%, respectively. Cold temperatures, space allowance, and lack of feeding during transport were found to be the main hazards of those problems (all p < 0.05). Our findings confirm that the correct assessment of the fitness for transport, adequate journey conditions, and experienced staff are crucial factors to safeguard the welfare of unbroken horses during long journeys.

Journeys, Journey Conditions, and Welfare Assessment of Unbroken (Unhandled) Horses on Arrival at a Slaughterhouse in Italy

Zappaterra, Martina;Nanni Costa, Leonardo;Felici, Martina;Perniola, Francesco;Padalino, Barbara
2022

Abstract

Simple Summary In Europe, many horses travel long distances to reach a slaughterhouse and it is claimed that many of them are unbroken and travel in poor conditions. Hypothesizing that journey conditions would be crucial to protecting the welfare of unbroken horses, this study aimed to describe their journeys and journey conditions, document their welfare status on arrival at a slaughterhouse, and investigate possible associations between journey conditions and welfare issues. A protocol to assess the welfare of the transported horses at unloading and during lairage was developed and applied on a total of 395 unbroken draft horses from 20 different consignments at a slaughterhouse in Southern Italy. The average journey duration was 34 h, coming from France and Poland. Trucks were well equipped and driven by experienced staff, while horses traveled loose and in small groups. At arrival, the horses self-unloaded and the prevalence of health problems was minimal (1.52% injuries; 4.30% nasal discharge; 6.58% abnormal feces). Space allowance, lack of feeding during transport, and cold temperatures were determined to be the main risk factors for their health and welfare. When unbroken horses travel over a long distance, the way in which they are transported (i.e., journey conditions) is crucial and must be maintained at a high standard to minimize the risk of the animals' welfare becoming compromised. Transportation of horses to slaughterhouses can pose a welfare concern, in particular when horses are unbroken/unhandled. This study aimed to describe their journeys and journey conditions, document their welfare status on arrival in a slaughterhouse in Italy, and investigate possible associations between journey conditions and welfare issues. A total of 395 unbroken draft horses in 20 different consignments were assessed with a standardized protocol. The most common departure point (16/20 consignments, 80%) was a French assembly center, but many of these horses had Spanish passports, suggesting they had previously been transported from Spain to France. The average journey duration was 34 +/- 14 h, including journey breaks (i.e., short stops inside the vehicle and long resting stops at control posts), while transit time was 24 +/- 4 h. The drivers were well experienced, the trucks were well equipped (i.e., forced ventilation, drinkers), and the horses traveled loose in small groups (n <= 4 horses) within pens inside the vehicle. On arrival at the slaughterhouse, the horses self-unloaded and showed minimal behavioral and health problems. The prevalence of injuries, diarrhea/abnormal feces, and nasal discharge were 1.52%, 6.58%, and 4.30%, respectively. Cold temperatures, space allowance, and lack of feeding during transport were found to be the main hazards of those problems (all p < 0.05). Our findings confirm that the correct assessment of the fitness for transport, adequate journey conditions, and experienced staff are crucial factors to safeguard the welfare of unbroken horses during long journeys.
Zappaterra, Martina; Nanni Costa, Leonardo; Felici, Martina; Minero, Michela; Perniola, Francesco; Tullio, Daniele; Padalino, Barbara
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/897140
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