Animal Science

Research Article

Effect of lairage time on levels of stress and meat quality in pigs

P. D. Warrissa1, S. N. Browna1, J. E. Edwardsa1 and T. G. Knowlesa1

a1 School of Veterinary Science, University of Bristol, Langford, Bristol BS18 7DY


A total of 1580 pigs killed in three slaughter -plants were held in lairage for ≥ 1 h, 3 h or overnight before slaughter. Blood samples were collected at exsanguination and subsequent carcass and meat quality monitored. Longer lairage reduced stress levels based on the concentration of cortisol, lactate and creatine phosphokinase in the blood. It also reduced the prevalence of pale, soft, exudative (PSE) but increased the prevalence of dark, firm, dry (DFD) meat. Additionally, it produced progressively greater amounts of skin damage caused by fighting between unfamiliar pigs and an overnight lairage reduced carcass yield and backfat thickness. The overall conclusion ivas that a period of between 1 and 3 h rest in lairage was optimal. There was no evidence that leaner, potentially more stress-susceptible pigs reacted differently from fatter, potentially more stress-resistant animals with regard to the effects of lairage time.

(Received February 20 1997)

(Accepted August 08 1997)


  • lairage;
  • meat quality;
  • pigs;
  • stress