Two things producers can do to boost transport biosecurity
Improvements will also help attract new drivers to the sector, says industry group
By Lilian Schaer for Livestock Research Innovation Corporation
There are two big things farmers can do to help livestock transporters do their jobs better – while improving their own farm biosecurity to boot.
At the same time, it could also help make livestock transportation a more attractive career choice; it’s a sector that is anticipating a big driver shortage in the coming years, according to Tyler Jutzi of Brussels Transport.
As a member of the Ontario Livestock Transporters’ Alliance, he’s encouraging farmers to install separate driver entrances into loading areas on the farm.
“We need a better, more biosecure way to get into the back of trailers,” he said in an interview. “We shouldn’t have to be changing out in the rain, snow and cold and trying not to touch the ground before going into the trailer – if we could change inside, it would make things a lot easier.”
The best type of driver entry system for the loading area is a Danish Entry that gives drivers enough space to change and clearly marks the divide between “clean” and “dirty” areas by use of a bench-style barriers that must be crossed the enter the building.
Jutzi estimates about 20 percent of farms currently have a dedicated driver entrance to the loading area, and believes it should be part of any new barn construction. It’s also not complicated to add onto existing facilities – the key is to construct it properly so that it will do the job it’s designed to perform.
That includes making sure there is enough space inside for the driver to move around, ensuring all the doors and gates swing the proper way, and installing stairs instead of ladders for driver access.
“It is hard to climb a ladder while holding a tote and even harder in bad weather conditions like freezing rain,” he said, adding that stairs provide the safest, easiest access for drivers.
The change room area should be kept clean, with a bench to serve as the barrier where the driver can sit and change before swinging around to the other side safely and easily.
According to Jutzi, the best design he has seen includes a double gate construction where one gate swings back to block the hall way to stop pigs from going back into barn, and a second gate on a spring that swings back to keeps pigs from going into the change area.
It’s also important for barn staff to understand how the Danish entry works, what the change room is used for and where the line of separation is between “clean” and “dirty” areas.
“If farmers expect drivers to follow their biosecurity protocols, they need to make sure they’re leading by example and following them as well,” Jutzi said. “It’s a question of mutual respect between the producer and the transporter.”
Another important aspect of livestock transport biosecurity is ensuring hogs are taken off feed prior to shipping. Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED) is just one example of a swine disease that can be spread through fecal matter, so taking hogs off feed before transport minimizes the amount of manure in the trailer, the assembly yard and at the processing plant and reduces the chance of spread.
Cleaner trailers are also easier to wash in between loads, as are cleaner boots and coveralls worn by the drivers.
“Cleaner drivers are happier drivers and with the majority of well-trained drivers over age 55, we need to make this job as driver-friendly as possible,” Jutzi said.
In fact, research recommends a fasting period for pigs before transport with studies illustrating fewer in-transit deaths and a reduced risk of travel sickness. To accommodate animal welfare, food safety and meat quality, a fasting period of between 16 and 24 hours before shipping is recommended.
Less manure in the trailers makes for drier, more comfortable environment for the animals with less ammonia, he adds, as well as helping with a more positive perception of the industry.
“There are more and more eyes watching us all the time now, so if someone is looking into a trailer and sees cleaner pigs, that’s a better impression,” he said.
Best practices tips for transport biosecurity:
- Clean and disinfect trailers between loads using cleaners and disinfectants
- Respect and follow posted biosecurity signage
- Avoid muddy or manure-contaminated roads and laneways and drive slowly to minimize contamination of the bottom of the trailer
- Establish a line of separation between “clean” and “dirty” sides at sites and do not cross that line without wearing clean coveralls, gloves and footwear
- Be aware of disease outbreak updates and try to select routes that avoid locations where disease has been identified
Source: London Swine Conference 2019 proceedings, presentation by Tyler Jutzi and Marlon Bauman
This article was printed in Ontario Hog Farmer, May/June 2019. It is provided by Livestock Research Innovation Corporation as part of its ongoing efforts to report on Canadian livestock issues, research developments and outcomes.