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Automated swine transport trailer cleaning offers added animal welfare benefits

Research aimed at speeding up and lowering the cost of cleaning swine transport trailers is offering added animal welfare benefits.

20 May 2019, at 12:18pm

Researchers working on behalf of Swine Innovation Pork are striving to automate the cleaning and disinfection of swine transport trailers to both speed up and lower the cost of the process.

Dr Terry Fonstad, a Professor in the College of Engineering at the University of Saskatchewan, says first the team needed the scientists with VIDO-InterVac to determine what would inactivate swine pathogens and, as it turns out, heating these trailers to at least 75 degrees for 15 minutes will kill the pathogens of concern.

"If we heat these trailers to 75, every piece of the trailer needs to get to 75 degrees for 15 minutes after it's been cleaned.," says Dr Fonstad in an interview with Farmscape. "Once I've hauled the animals I've got to take the trailer and clean it as clean as I can get it.

"Then I've got to bake that trailer to make sure that it gets to at least 75 centigrade for 15 minutes in every piece of the trailer.

"Then I need some sort of data acquisition system to make sure that that trailer got to those temperatures in every piece of the trailer. But, once I've got that data acquisition system, I can also use it to measure temperature, humidity and those type of things for animal comfort, animal welfare and ultimately a better trailer design, or a trailer design that's more compatible with cleaning and animal welfare is the other ultimate goal.

"It has grown into an all encompassing project. It started out with investigations, then with verification and now we're into phase three where we have industry partners that are robotic manufacturers, hyrdovac or vac systems manufacturers and sensor manufacturers that are now on board as partners, and doing all of the beta testing and production of beta units which we hope then will move into phase four and phase five which will be commercialisation.

Dr Fonstad anticipates phase three of the programme will be completed this year.