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Welfare of pigs during transport

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In the framework of its Farm to Fork Strategy, the Commission is undertaking a comprehensive evaluation of the animal welfare legislation. The present Opinion deals with protection of pigs during transport. The welfare of pigs during transport by road is the main focus, but other means of transport are also covered. Current practices related to transport of pigs during the different stages (preparation, loading/unloading, transit and journey breaks) are described. Overall, 10 welfare consequences were identified as highly relevant for the welfare of pigs during transport based on the severity, duration and frequency of occurrence: group stress, handling stress, heat stress, injuries, motion stress, prolonged hunger, prolonged thirst, restriction of movement, resting problems and sensory overstimulation. These welfare consequences and their animal‐based measures are described. A variety of hazards were identified, mainly relating to factors such as mixing of unfamiliar pigs, inappropriate handling methods and devices, the use of pick‐up pens, inexperienced/untrained handlers, structural deficiencies of vehicles and facilities, poor driving conditions, unfavourable microclimatic and environmental conditions and poor husbandry practices leading to these welfare consequences. The Opinion contains general and specific conclusions relating to the different stages of transport of pigs. Recommendations to prevent hazards and to correct or mitigate welfare consequences are made. Recommendations were also developed to define quantitative thresholds for microclimatic conditions and minimum space allowance within means of transport. The development of the welfare consequences over time was assessed in relation to maximum journey duration. The Opinion covers specific animal transport scenarios identified by the European Commission relating to transport of cull sows and ‘special health status animals’, and lists welfare concerns associated with these.