Acta Vet. Brno 2006, 75: 619-624

Influence of Travel Distance and the Season upon Transport-induced Mortality in Fattened Cattle

M. Malena1, E. Voslářová2, P. Tomanová2, R. Lepková2, I. Bedáňová2, V. Večerek2

1State Veterinary Administration, Czech Republic
2University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Czech Republic

Received May 10, 2006
Accepted September 5, 2006

Animal welfare during the transport of fattened cattle has a significant effect on the likelihood of mortality or poor meat quality. The number of animals that died during transport to a slaughterhouse or briefly after being delivered to a slaughterhouse may serve as an indicator of animal welfare during transport. The aim of this study was to determine the mortality in fattened cattle resulting from transport to a slaughterhouse, and to examine the effect of both travel distance and the season of the year on the mortality rate in fattened cattle during transport. The mortality rate in fattened cattle during transport to a slaughterhouse that were monitored in the Czech Republic in the period of 1997 - 2004 was 0.007% ± 0.003%. However, it varied significantly (p < 0.05, r = 0.90) with the travel distance to a slaughterhouse, ranging from 0.004% ± 0.002% at a travel distance up to 50 km to 0.024% ± 0.027% at a travel distance over 300 km. The season of the year also had a significant impact on the mortality rate in transported fattened cattle. In general, the highest mortality rate was observed in summer months (particularly in July and August) and winter months (particularly in January and February). Correlation (r = 0.68) was proved (p < 0.01) between the mortality rate in fattened cattle and ambient temperature. The results indicate relatively low sensitivity of fattened cattle to stress during transport, which was reflected in transport-induced mortality. The increasing travel distance and the transport of cattle in summer or winter months resulted in an increase in transport-induced mortality rates.