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Blood parameters and corneal-reflex of finishing pigs with and without lung affections observed post mortem in two abattoirs stunning with CO2

Fries, R., Rindermann, G., Siegling-Vlitakis, C., Bandick, N., Bräutigam, L., Buschulte, A., Irsigler, H., Wolf, K., Hartmann, H.
Research in veterinary science 2013 v.94 no.1 pp. 186-190
blood, blood pH, carbon dioxide, cornea, farms, finishing, oxygen, pneumonia, pulmonary gas exchange, slaughter, slaughterhouses, swine, unconsciousness
In two pig abattoirs of different slaughter capacities, the stunning efficacy of CO2 on finishing pigs with and without pneumonic lesions (observed post mortem) was reflected against the corneal-reflex and blood parameters (blood pH, pCO2 and pO2) from individual finishers. Stunning duration was 120s (abattoir A) and 90s (abattoir B), respectively.Pneumonia in finisher pigs is frequently observed during post mortem inspection, which may raise concerns about a delay of unconsciousness because of hampered gas exchange in the lungs. The aim of this study was to examine possible pneumonia consequences for stunning efficacy under commercial conditions. For that, corneal reflex, O2 and CO2 partial pressure in the blood as well as blood pH were measured in 2650 finishers from abattoir A and 2100 from abattoir B.The partial pressure of O2 after stunning accounted to about 3kPa, the partial pressure of CO2 was found at levels of about 24kPa in abattoir A (after 120s CO2 exposure) and 17.5kPa in abattoir B (after 90s CO2 exposure). In abattoir A, the blood pH was at 6.9, and at 7.0 in abattoir B. The corneal reflex was observed in 6.2% of pigs in abattoir A and 17.1% of pigs in abattoir B.A correlation between pneumonic lesions and blood status was not observed. However, for some individual farms, a significant correlation between pneumonia and corneal reflex was observed.