Physiological responses of food animals to road transportation stress
The increasing demand in proteins to feed the ever-growing world population has necessitated the industrialization and transportation of livestock using different means of transportation across several ecological zones with different climatic conditions. The stress factors acting on animals during road transportation are numerous and the responses of the animal to them are complex, non-specific and often detrimental to their health and productivity. In spite of the numerous recommendations and guidelines by many countries on the welfare of animal transport order and their streaked compliance by transporters, several studies still report severe welfare problems during road transportation of food animals. This review, in a new approach examines the effects of individual or the combination of road transport stress factors, such as: handling, loading, unloading, vehicle type and design, type of road and driving methods, vehicle noise and vibration, stocking rate/density, journey duration, climatic conditions and the general animal welfare implication on different physiological parameters of transported food animals. The review provides an insight on the physiological responses of animals to transport stress and possible areas of intervention and adoption of improved and innovative management strategies toward improving the welfare of the transported animals.
Key words: Animal welfare, food animal, stress, road transportation.