2014 - 2017

The influence of extreme temperature on turkey physiology, welfare, and meat quality

Principal Investigator: Trever Crowe, University of Saskatchewan
Co-investigator: Megan Strawford, University of Saskatchewan
Status: Completed


The objective of this activity is to investigate the effects of extreme exposure temperature, age (gender) and transport duration on turkeys during simulated transport.


In the processing industry, there are two significant costs incurred that are related to live-haul transportation, the losses associated with birds that arrive at the plant dead and those that are deemed unfit for human consumption and are condemned.  In addition to being a loss in income, both losses represent a concern in terms of animal welfare. Recent experiments show that the conditions during transport can affect the physiology, behaviour, and meat quality of broilers.  However, there is very little evidence pertaining to the effect that the transportation process and exposure to extreme temperatures can have on turkeys’. Based on the limited data available, it appears that both acute and chronic exposure to temperatures outside of the turkeys’ thermoneutral zone does have a negative impact on their physiology, productivity and meat quality.  In addition, it appears that transport can have a negative impact on their physiology.  However, there are not any data available describing how acute heat and cold stress during transportation will affect turkeys’ physiology, behaviour, meat quality, and welfare.  Therefore, the lack of data concerning the relationship between exposure temperature and transport warrants a more detailed investigation. This research  will investigate the effect the extreme temperature conditions can have on turkeys during simulated transport and will provide the turkey industry with detailed data describing the relationship between extreme exposure to temperature during simulated transport and turkey physiology, behaviour, and meat quality.  This work will also be instrumental in the continued development of recommendations and requirements put forth to ensure the transportation process is managed in such a manner that the impact on turkey welfare is minimized.


$348,343 (AAFC/CPRC)


*This research was part of the Poultry Science Cluster 2 which was supported by AAFC as part of Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.

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