Canadian Poultry Magazine

Climate Controlled Trailer

By Office of Communications University of Saskatchewan   

Features New Technology Production

Travelling can be stressful, even if you’re a pig, chicken or cow.


Climate Controlled Trailer

A climate-controlled trailer developed at the University of
Saskatchewan is designed to reduce the temperature related stress and maintain
meat quality.

Trever Crowe
 Trever Crowe

A climate-controlled trailer developed at the University of
Saskatchewan is designed to reduce the temperature related stress and maintain
meat quality.

Trever Crowe, professor in the College of Engineering, heads
up a poultry transportation research group dedicated to minimizing the amount
of stress animals undergo during transport. Crowe said that 12 years ago,
Saskatchewan had the highest level of chicken deaths during transportation of
anywhere in Canada. Today, the province has the lowest rate thanks to research
findings by researchers and the poultry industry. Building a test trailer that
could monitor the chickens during transport was a big step in keeping the
chickens comfortable and alive.

“We have data when we are transporting chickens that shows the
temperature was minus 28 outside the trailer and plus 28 inside,” said Crowe.
“There are actual conditions in the middle of winter when the birds near the
middle of the trailer are suffering from too much heat, while other birds near
the outside are too cold.”

During the test runs, chickens are monitored using internal
thermometers about the size of a nickel, that take accurate measurements.

Although chickens are adept at coping with temperature
change, when the thermostat drops below -12C, it can be damaging to the animal
and affect the quality of the meat.

For Crowe, the research in transporting chickens means
finding ways to evenly distribute heat throughout the trailer.  The birds create a lot of heat, and
depending on the size of the trailer, between 9,000 and 13,000 chickens are
transported per trailer, so ventilation is a key part of the research.

Crowe said he has plenty of support from colleagues and the
industry since the data they are collecting has not been available before.

“Ideally, the birds are kept between five to 10 degrees, but
as we know, that’s difficult in Western Canada where the conditions are colder.
The strategy is to move the heat from hot locations to areas where it’s

 Photo by Poultry Transportation Research Group

Pigs require similar temperatures during transport but pose
a problem chickens do not. Loading the much larger animals onto a trailer is
highly stressful.

Lee Whittington, president and CEO of the Prairie Swine
Centre, a research partner with the U of S, said they are noticing that through
the monitoring of the animals’ heart rate and temperature, short-term stress
can cause watery pork, while prolonged periods of stress causes dark, firm and
dry meat.

“During the loading process, we are seeing that there are
more stressful compartments in the truck from having to move the pigs up and
down ramps, so we either need to design better ramps or better ways to get them

Whittington said they have even tried hydraulic lifts in an
attempt to reduce stress, but re-designing the ramps might be the easiest way.

“We won’t replace truck fleets, but there are ways to reduce
stress on these animals and we’re finding solutions for them.”


(306) 966-6610


Office of Communications, University of Saskatchewan

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan


(306) 966-6607


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