An investigation was made into the effects of different lairage times and the position of chicken crates during transport to the slaughterhouse on the biochemical and hematological profile and physical parameters of broilers, such as color and pH of their breast meat. The treatments were defined by the animals slaughtered after 0, 2, 4 and 6 hours of lairage time at the slaughterhouse, transported in crates located in the top and bottom layers of the truck. It was found that increasing the lairage time at the slaughterhouse to over two hours reduced the number of lymphocytes and increased the heterophil/lymphocyte (H/L) ratio and the basophil count in the hemogram. In addition, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) activity and cholesterol levels increased and plasma triglyceride and glucose levels decreased. The position of the crates in the truck altered the creatine kinase (CK) activity, and the highest enzyme activity was found in birds transported in the top layer of crates in the truck. Furthermore, the long lairage time in the slaughterhouse increased the pH and the value of a* (redness value) and decreased the lightness value of breast fillets. The interaction significant between 4 and 6 hours of lairage time and the position of the crate in the top layer of the truck favored the development of dark, firm, dry (DFD) meat.
animal welfare; DFD meat; fasting; holding sheds; pre-slaughter