Pigs can pick up diseases from anywhere, not just from anything that enters the building.

Stop and think about how many vehicles come and go within your farm every day. The trucks and trailers that haul your pigs present the greatest risk, and that applies even if you haul pigs with your own equipment. Whether you move pigs to market or simply to another site within your production system, if the vehicle isn’t thoroughly washed, you could be spreading disease within your herd.

That’s why Genetiporc implemented a strict truck-washing system, to prevent disease contamination before animals even enter production buildings. With a few revisions here and there, you can adapt all or some of the ideas to your own operation. The real take-home point is that your herd’s biosecurity program is not complete unless you also have truck – and trailer – washing and disinfecting protocols in place.

Normand Gagn, logistics manager for Genetiporc’s Canadian operations, started by developing a program to keep transportation systems for the nucleus, multiplier and commercial herds separate. Everything from trailers to coveralls is color-coded according to whether it will be used in a nucleus, multiplier, customer or commercial herd, in order to prevent any cross-contamination.

From there, the main focus is on the vehicles to ensure there is no bacterial contamination. Trucks and trailers are put through a rigorous washing and disinfecting regiment. In winter, any material within the trailer is allowed to thaw out if frozen, which can take several hours. The manure and bedding are then scraped out and the trailer is flushed out with a garden hose. This removes most of the organic matter. Next, a high-pressure hose is used to wash out any remaining material.

After the trailer is washed out, an employee does a pre-disinfection inspection, says Brian Larson, Genetiporc USA transportation manager.

The trailer is then disinfected using either a phenol or a quartenary ammonia solution. Both solutions are used on an alternating basis, he notes.

Once the disinfecting process is complete, the trucks move to the drying barns. The drying step is a critical one. It not only prevents freezing, but also eliminates moisture that encourages bacteria growth. Larson says, it allows the disinfectant to work effectively.

“Drying the trailers insures that bacteria won’t be able to survive, as water is a medium for bacteria,” says Martin Butler, production manager of Genetiporc USA.

To make sure the job has been done properly, an independent inspector then checks the trailer for anything that could promote microbial growth. If the inspector approves the trailer, the process within the U.S. operations is complete. But in Canada, there’s one more step.

Canadian personnel take a microbial sample, by pressing sterile, solution-filled petrie dishes against the trailer’s floor. The dish is then taken to a lab, placed in an incubator and inspected to see what will grow. This test takes about a day to complete. If the test comes back clean, the trailer is ready for its next run. If not, then the cleaning and disinfecting process begins again and is repeated until the trailer tests clean.

The entire process (without any required repeat washings) takes a couple of days, so the trailers aren’t used every day. This costs the company extra in terms of equipment to have the extra trailers on hand, but by preventing a major disease outbreak it saves money in the long run.

Costs of some of the precautions make them unlikely for on-farm use, but the cleaning and disinfecting protocols make good sense and are adaptable to on-farm systems. For example, can you improve the drying time after your trailer has been washed and disinfected?

Genetiporc’s Canadian operations have used this truck washing and testing method since its inception in 1984. The U.S. program began when Genetiporc USA was formed in the early 1990s.
Biosecurity measures shouldn’t end when a truck hits the road. In Genetiporc’s case, the driver never goes into a barn to help load pigs. When the driver unloads pigs, he or she puts on new boots and coveralls as he or she steps into the trailer, so as not to contaminate the pigs.

Also, the same set of coveralls will never be worn when moving or handling the nucleus herd as when loading or handling the multiplier herd or commercial herd. In the Canadian operation, the coveralls are color-coded by Gagnè, according to where they may be worn. The colors match the colors of the trailers that haul that particular part of the herd. In the United States, there is no color code, but the coveralls are marked and kept separate from each other through each washing and use.

After the hogs are on the truck, the drivers are instructed not to stop, particularly in areas where diseases like psuedorabies are still present. Stopping at areas like truck stops that may have other trucks full of hogs is another way diseases can spread.

Going to this much trouble for something as seemingly basic as washing out a trailer may seem like a hassle. But compared to the hassle and cost of depopulating and repopulating your herd if a disease strikes, it makes good sense. When it comes to biosecurity measures it’s better to be safe than sorry.