Project Overview

During Year 3, this Activity completed the enhancement and optimization of the prototype trailer's design. A new and more versatile environmental control system was developed and installed in the trailer. The system has more reliable datalogging features as well as an independent and separate control for the top and bottom deck fans and is governed by temperature, RH and CO2 levels inside the trailer.

After the modifications, the prototype trailer was evaluated in static tests, followed by the road and disease-challenge tests. Prior to the tests, various preparations were conducted such as development of sampling protocols, securing animal use protocol and biosafety permit, identifying a partner barn where the target diseases are present, assessing the actual load of PRRSv and IAv in the barn air, and further modifications of the trailer ancillary systems based on the results of the static tests. After completing one road test and a preliminary disease-challenge test, it was demonstrated that the current trailer can provide the required environment for the pigs during transport. Subsequent tests will be conducted in the coming year to complete the planned number of replicate tests over summer and winter conditions.

Despite delays and challenges encountered due to the pandemic, the research team was able to make the necessary adjustments and complete the needed tasks such that the project activities are only slightly behind schedule at present. Since all the trailer systems are already installed and in good operating condition, and the experimental procedures have been developed and refined, then it should be possible to complete the remaining tests in quick succession in Year 4.

Aims of Project

The specific aims of this project:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Year 1

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
  • Lighting
  • 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 controlsystem 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.

Year 2

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.

Year 3

2021-2022 Year 3 Update

During Year 3, this Activity completed the enhancement and optimization of the prototype trailer's design. A new and more versatile environmental control system was developed and installed in the trailer. The system has more reliable datalogging features as well as an independent and separate control for the top and bottom deck fans and is governed by temperature, RH and CO2 levels inside the trailer.

After the modifications, the prototype trailer was evaluated in static tests, followed by the road and disease-challenge tests. Prior to the tests, various preparations were conducted such as development of sampling protocols, securing animal use protocol and biosafety permit, identifying a partner barn where the target diseases are present, assessing the actual load of PRRSv and IAv in the barn air, and further modifications of the trailer ancillary systems based on the results of the static tests. After completing one road test and a preliminary disease-challenge test, it was demonstrated that the current trailer can provide the required environment for the pigs during transport. Subsequent tests will be conducted in the coming year to complete the planned number of replicate tests over summer and winter conditions.

Despite delays and challenges encountered due to the pandemic, the research team was able to make the necessary adjustments and complete the needed tasks such that the project activities are only slightly behind schedule at present. Since all the trailer systems are already installed and in good operating condition, and the experimental procedures have been developed and refined, then it should be possible to complete the remaining tests in quick succession in Year 4.

Publications

Conferences:

Spaden, M., Alvarado, A., Predicala, B. November 2021. Assessment of modified livestock prototype trailer to improve biosecurity and welfare during swine transport. Presentation at Saskatchewan Pork Industry Symposium 2021. November 16, 2021. Saskatoon, SK.

References

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.