Driver experience is an important factor for reducing downed non-ambulatory cattle on trucks. Karen Schwartzkopf-Genswein, Ph.D. with Agri-Food Canada, recently reported to the Animal Transportation Association that studies of many loads of cattle indicated that drivers with more than six years of driving experience had a significantly lower percentage of non-ambulatory cattle. Research on cattle and sheep has also shown that careful driving, avoiding sudden stops and smooth acceleration helps to prevent animals from falling in a truck. 

Dr. Temple Grandin
Dr. Temple Grandin
(photo: Rosalie Winard)

Her studies also re-confirmed older research that there is an optimum density for loading cattle. Downed cattle increased in both overloaded and underloaded trucks. Another issue is the maximum length of time cattle should remain on a truck. Schwartzkopf-Genswein stated that 20 to 24 hours should be the maximum time that cattle remain on a truck.

Another finding was that a small difference in the percentage of open side porosity of the punch holes on the side of a trailer had a significant effect on temperature. Trailers with 10 percent and 12 percent ventilation openings were compared. The trailer with 12 percent of the side open was significantly cooler. The study also confirmed that the nose was the hottest part of the trailer.

During the same conference, Eddie Harper, a livestock transportation consultant from the United Kingdom, gave an update on EU transport regulations. The EU has regulations specifying only special trucks that are upgraded for livestock can be used for trips lasting over eight hours. For trips under eight hours, a variety of vehicles are allowable.

There are some regulations that are not realistic, however. One example is keeping the temperature range between 5?C (40?F) and 30?C (85?F). When the author visited Germany and the UK, she observed that many livestock trucks were equipped with small fans to provide ventilation during hot weather. Maintaining this narrow range of temperatures is impossible. Harper also stated the use of climate-controlled vehicles is increasing. Truck builders are receiving orders for fully air-conditioned trucks. Pigs hauled in trucks with air-conditioned trailers had less PSE.

PED-Free in Alberta

When PEDv (Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus) was raging all over the US and Canada, the province of Alberta had managed to keep it out. Michelle Groleau with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency explained details about the biosecurity program that has been effective in Alberta. They use dedicated trucks for major routes to help prevent disease spread. They are also very careful about standard biosecurity protocols such as changing boots.

One of the major features of the Alberta biosecurity program is that every movement of trucks transporting pigs is tracked. This makes it possible to determine every place a truck has been. All pig movements must be reported in Canada and the farm premise identification is entered into a central database. All pigs are tattooed with a farm premise ID before they leave the farm. Central tracking of all pig truck movements makes it possible for trucks to change routes if they are likely to go near a PEDv outbreak.