Movement Ease for Grow-Finish Pig Cadavers On-Farm using a Sked, Deer Sled, and Modified Deer Sled

  • Anna K. Johnson (Iowa State University)
  • Kenneth J Stalder (Iowa State University)
  • Suzanne T. Millman (Iowa State University)
  • Jason W. Ross (Iowa State University)
  • Ella Akin (Iowa State University)
  • Cassandra Jass (Iowa Select Farms)
  • John Stinn (Iowa Select Farms)


The National Pork Board provides guidance about humane swine handling through the Pork Quality Assurance Plus and Transport Quality Assurance programs. While this guidance is useful, questions remain on best practices and design of handling tools with reference to moving nonambulatory grow-finish pigs. The objective of this project was to test a sked, deer sled, and modified deer sled as physically suitable handling tools for moving grow-finish pig cadavers as a model for non-ambulatory market-weight pigs. On-farm testing was accomplished using three pig cadavers (59, 91, 98 kg) to evaluate handling tool effectiveness based on employee heart rate, force, handling tool duration, and durability. For statistical analysis, a new variable was created; change in employee heart rate (bpm) was calculated: hospital pen heart rate – baseline resting heart rate. Each employee was considered an experimental unit. Data were analysed using generalized linear mixed model methods. The sked had a greater change in employee heart rate compared to the modified deer sled. The sked required employees to use more force to move cadavers at the end of the alley compared to the deer sled and modified deer sled. Employees used less force to move each handling tool at the end of the alley and were quicker to move the 59 kg cadaver compared to the 91 and 98 kg cadavers. For handling tools, employees were able to more quickly move the modified deer sled from the home- to the hospital pen. The deer sled was the least durable, while the sked was the most durable. In conclusion, this research would not support the modified deer sled in its current form as a handling tool due to no restraints. No restraints led to cadavers sliding off the modified deer sled during movement. Furthermore, during movement cadaver legs and heads caught in alley gates, which prevented a smooth forward motion transition. This research supports the use of the sked and deer sled as practical handling tools to move grow-finish pig cadavers and show promise as useful handling tools to move nonambulatory market-weight pigs’ on-farm.

How to Cite:

Johnson, A. K., Stalder, K. J., Millman, S. T., Ross, J. W., Akin, E., Jass, C. & Stinn, J., (2019) “Movement Ease for Grow-Finish Pig Cadavers On-Farm using a Sked, Deer Sled, and Modified Deer Sled”, Iowa State University Animal Industry Report 16(1).

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Published on
13 Aug 2019