Transport Quality Assurance® (TQA®) is a program that helps pig transporters, producers and handlers understand how to handle, move and transport pigs as well as potential impacts on pig well-being and/or pork quality. Anyone who handles pigs, transports pigs, or sets protocols for handling pigs, can influence animal well-being and pork quality.

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There are two types of workers certified through the TQA program: A certified TQA Advisor is someone trained by the Pork Checkoff who can offer certification training and administer exams to handlers. Additionally, the TQA Handler certification allows individuals to move, handle and transport pigs.

The role of handlers and transporters

Pig handlers and transporters are vital to pig farming. Handling and transporting the pigs in our care are essential elements for the multisite pork production model used in the United States today. Modern pig farming involves not only moving animals from farm to market or harvest facilities but also handling and moving an animal several times throughout the production cycle. Animals are often moved and handled for purposes of:

  • Routine daily care
  • Treatment of an illness or injury
  • Reproduction
  • Relocation to another production phase and location/site
  • Sale or processing

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Transportation and animal well-being

The conditions under which pigs are handled and transported can affect their well-being. Research has shown that using good animal handling practices benefit the pig, the handler and the industry. For the pig, good animal handling can result in the reduction or elimination of stressful experiences. For the handler, good animal handling generally results in easier pig movement, which means better well-being and less frustration for the animal handler. Other benefits to the animal handler include a decrease in transport losses, reduced time to load and unload pigs, reduced weight loss and better meat quality.

Handlers certified through TQA demonstrate their commitment to promote and protect pig well-being. Incidents of poor animal handling or abuse are considered to be ethically wrong and unacceptable. It is important to remember that an individual’s actions, both positive and negative, can have a direct impact upon themselves, the company they represent, the entire U.S. pork industry and pig farming as a profession.