Nine groups of six hinds were transported a range of distances (80, 230 or 380 km) that were representative of current commercial practice. Behaviour during transport was recorded continuously using a camera mounted centrally in the ceiling of the pen. Blood samples were collected pre-transport and post-slaughter, the carcasses were assessed for bruising and ultimate pH was measured. Adjustments to balance (rapid foot adjustments), and the number of impacts and movements by animals were greatest at the start of the journey and on the steep, winding roads. Overall bruising levels were low. Bruising on the hindleg and vertebrae increased with increasing distance transported. Biting accounted for 95% of all agonistic behaviour observed during transport. Heavier animals tended to initiate most of the agonistic behaviour and this was typically directed at the smaller animals. On two-thirds of the journeys one or more animals lay down. Deer tended to lie down after 60 rain of the journey. Pre-slaughter handling (including transport) resulted in an increase in creatine kinase (CK), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), glucose, calcium, cortisol, total lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), LDH3, LDH4, LDH5 and a decrease in magnesium. Distance caused a further proportionate increase in plasma CK, total LDH, LDH5 and LDH4. This study shows that increasing distance transported has no additional effect on behaviour, carcass quality (bruising) or ultimate pH of red deer.
- Red deer