There is substantial evidence that pre-slaughter events (mustering and holding in yards, transport, lairage and preslaughter handling) have negative effects on product quality through bruising, hide damage and muscle pH. To minimise these negative effects, use of deer-specific, good stock handling procedures and appropriately designed facilities are essential. The duration of pre-slaughter events and human presence should be minimised. Yard pens should be appropriately sized, dark, quiet, and deer should be kept in familiar groups. Adherence to existing guidelines for transport, careful driving, and avoiding transport during hot weather are desirable. Showering deer upon arrival at the processing plant plus provision of water in lairage pens probably prevents dehydration. Conversely, showering under some conditions may add to stress and bruising damage in lairage. Research proposed to improve pre-slaughter handling includes taming and selection for tractable deer, definition of appropriate handling techniques and improved facility designs. Further work is also required to identify optimal practices for lairage, showering, washing and feeding.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 63, Queenstown, 237-242, 2003
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