Microorganisms including viruses, which can be aerosolized, become airborne, be transmitted to other animals, and be transported well beyond their area of origin, represent major health and economic risks to producers as well as to human and animal populations. Airborne transmissible diseases such as Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) can cause significant economic losses to the Canadian swine industry through actual loss in animal productivity, added costs of medication and eradication measures, and even potential loss of access to markets for Canadian pigs. Losses to the Canadian swine industry due to PRRS alone are estimated to be around $100 million per year. More recently, the swine industry has faced the serious threat of another emerging disease, Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED), which has now been found in the Canadian herd. Although PED is not known to be transmitted airborne routes, contaminated transport trailers were identified as one of the main routes for spreading the PED virus.
A previous project under the Canadian AgriSafety Applied Research Program 2014 - 2018 developed a new prototype livestock transport trailer that could prevent the dispersion of pathogens and protect animals from airborne transmissible diseases during transport. The design of the prototype trailer tried to integrate as much as possible the desired features identified by stakeholders to mitigate the risk of airborne infection. The prototype trailer was a first attempt at developing an entirely new platform for animal transport, thus it is not yet perfect and requires further work to get it to a stage where it can be widely adopted and eventually commercialized. In addition, new issues and risks have emerged since the conceptualization of the past project more than 4 years ago; these need to be taken into consideration in the next steps of the development of the new trailer design. Hence, this continuation of the previous project is aimed at pursuing the enhancement of the previous trailer design, to help in ultimately getting this new transport platform widely accepted, and to ensure that the past and current effort and investment in building the first prototype are not wasted. This current project is important to mitigate the serious consequences that can occur if high-value stock becomes infected by airborne transmissible diseases during transport through pig-dense areas where major swine diseases are endemic.
Aims of Project
The specific aims of this project:
- Enhance and optimize the current prototype trailer, taking into account the findings from the previous Agrivita-funded project and the need for additional design features in response to new and emerging issues such as more stringent biosecurity requirements to combat new diseases and the growing public demand for enhanced animal welfare.
- Evaluate the modified prototype in static and road tests, and in PRRSv-challenge tests, while monitoring additional parameters focusing on the biosecurity and animal welfare aspects of the trailer as well as the impact on the overall health and safety of workers and animals.
- Conduct analysis of the enhanced trailer design for manufacturability and develop recommendations to facilitate the turn over to trailer manufacturers and pig transport companies for commercial implementation.
For further information about this project, please contact Program Manager Nadia Smith at 306-966-1648 or by email at email@example.com
Brown, J., T. G. Crowe, S. Torrey, R. Bergerson, T. Widowski, J. Correa, L. Faucitano and H. Gonyou. (2011). Assessing welfare during transport: relationships between truck temperatures, pigs behaviour, blood stress markers and meat quality. 5th International Conference on the Assessment of Animal Welfare at the Farm and Group Level. Guelph, ON. Aug 8-11.
Brown, J. A., T. S. Samarakone, T. Crowe, R. Bergerson, T. Widowski, J. A. Correa, L. Faucitano, S. Torrey and H. W. Gonyou. (2011). Temperature and humidity conditions in trucks transporting pigs in two seasons in eastern and western Canada. Transactions of the ASABE. 54: 2311-2318.
Correa, J. A., H. W. Gonyou, S. Torrey, T. Widowski, R. Bergeron, T. G. Crowe, J. P. Laforest and L. Faucitano. (2013). Welfare and carcass and meat quality of pigs being transported for two hours using two vehicle types during two season of the year. Canadian Journal of Animal Science. 93: 43-55.
Hayne, S., T. Samarakone, T. G. Crowe, S. Torrey, R. Bergeron, T. Widowski, N. Lewis, C. Dewey, L. Faucitano and H. W. Gonyou. (2009). Variation in temperature within trucks transporting pigs during two seasons in two locations. Banff Pork Seminar. Banff, AB. Jan 20-23.
Weschenfelder, A. V., S. Torrey, N. Devillers, T. G. Crowe, A. Bassols, Y. Saco, M. Piñerio, L. Saucier and L. Faucitano. (2013). Effect of trailer design on animal welfare parameters and carcass and meat quality of three Pietrain crosses transported over a short distance. Livestock Science. 157: 234 - 244.
Widowski, T., E. Tamminga, R. Bergeron, J. Correa, T. G. Crowe, C. Dewey, L. Faucitano, H. W. Gonyou, N. Lewis and S. Torrey. (2010). Effects of stage of transport and vehicle design on deep core body temperature of market pigs. Centralia Swine Research Update. Kirkton, ON. Jan 27. Pages I-25 – I-26.
2019 - 2020 Year 1 Update
While air filtration systems in swine barns help reduce the risk of infection by airborne transmissible diseases, this protection ends once the animals leave the barn for transportation. The risk of infection through the transfer of microorganisms and airborne transmissible diseases during the transport of animals can be significant despite biosecurity measures in place. This project was formulated to develop an improved prototype trailer that will address emerging biosecurity risks and enhance animal welfare during transport.
The project began by completing a comprehensive search aimed at identifying relevant, innovative and applicable livestock transport trailer features that could be implemented in the current prototype trailer. This list included enhancement of the environmental control and data-logging systems of the prototype trailer as well as modification or addition of necessary features such as drinkers, misters, lighting, among others, in the animal compartment of the trailer. A list of physical and structural modifications options for the trailer have been developed and further assessment is currently underway to prioritize which modification options are more appropriate for implementation based on the level of importance, budget and time requirements, among others.
The investigation also included an examination of two state-of-the-art commercial pig trailers purchased from two different trailer manufacturers in Europe to learn first-hand the unique and promising features available in commercial trailers.
The following aspects of the prototype trailer were identified for modification:
- Instrumentation systems
- Ventilation system control
- Data-logging system for monitoring temperature, carbon dioxide levels, airspeed/airflow
- GPS location monitoring system
- Physical or structural modifications of the trailer
- Misting system
- Hydration control system - water tanks and distribution system, water heater
- Cleanability of animal compartment
Substantial progress has been made on the enhancement of the instrumentation system of the prototype trailer. A new and more versatile environmental control system was developed. The system has an independent and separate control for the top and bottom deck fans and is controlled by temperature, relative humidity, and carbon dioxide levels inside the trailer. The new system provides more reliable data-logging features that are capable of displaying data in real-time and allow access to the data during livestock transport that can be bypassed by the truck driver if the need arises.
An informational bulletin was produced under the CANFARMSAFE publication A Safe Ride: For People and Pigs.
2020 - 2021 Year 2 Update
For Year 2, project activities focused on enhancing and optimizing the current prototype trailer design and starting to plan and prepare for trailer performance testing and evaluation. The enhancements and modifications associated with the instrumentation system of the trailer such as controllers for ventilation and heating systems, drinking, and misting system as well as data logging system were completed. The newly installed environmental control system is equipped with a more reliable data logging system capable of displaying data in real-time, allowing access to the data while in transit, and can be bypassed by the truck driver if the need arises. More reliable and robust models of sensors for temperature, relative humidity (RH), CO2, and airflow were also installed to withstand the wide range of environmental conditions inside the trailer. Other features that were installed included: LED lights, drinkers, misters and water tanks, portable heaters, and relocation of the generator exhaust pipe.
The current COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in delays completing the redesign and modifications of the trailer, and subsequently, the testing and evaluation have not fully commenced yet. However, planning and preparations for the static, road and disease-challenge tests are already being carried out so that the work can proceed immediately once the enhancement and optimization work are completed. However, progress was made in terms of the development of a sampling protocol, experimental set-up and air sampling procedures, consultations with veterinarians about the field sampling protocol, contact and discussion with external laboratories for sample analysis, procurement of materials and supplies for the planned tests, and identifying a barn will the disease challenge tests will be conducted.