Tech start up, U of S collaborate in creating "ideal" biosecurity conditions for hog transport

Canadian tech start up company Transport Genie Ltd., along with researchers at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S), have received funding to move forward with phase three of a multi-year research project aimed at improving biosecurity within swine transport, including transport trailers.

The funding, not disclosed in the news release, comes from the Swine Innovation Porc (SIP) through the Swine Cluster 3 program.

“Our previous research demonstrated that dry heating (baking) to temperatures of  75 degrees C for at least 15 minutes has the potential to eliminate pathogens of concern to the North American swine industry such as porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV),” says Fonstad, associate dean research and partnerships at the U of S.

“This project expands on that work to verify whether the baking process can reliably destroy pathogens in real-world conditions, in a variety of trailer types and cleaning facilities, summer and winter.”

SIP projects are aimed to develop a livestock transportation system that maximizes animal welfare and uses trailers that can be cleaned and disinfected quickly, effectively, and affordably.

Transport Genies smart sensors will monitor temperatures inside the trailers during the “baking” process which is also called thermally assisted drying and disinfection (TADD). Fonstad’s team will also be looking at different ways to optimize the trailers overall design and a way to automate the process of cleaning and disinfecting the inside of it. Currently the process is quite labour intensive and requires a large amount of water and detergents.

“We’re proud to contribute to the vital work being done by Dr. Fonstad and his research partners across Canada to improve the health and welfare of farmed animals,” says Joel Sotomayor, president and CEO of Transport Genie Ltd.

Fonstad adds industry has already moved to implement baking trailers to 75 degrees C for 15 minutes; however, they haven’t had the scientific data to develop clear biosecurity protocols for baking because until now.

“They’ve lacked reliable instruments to verify that the entire trailer is being heated to the correct temperature,” Fonstad explains. According to the news release, additional research may determine that heating to a higher temperature for a shorter period, or lower temperature for longer periods, would also achieve satisfactory results.

With African swine fever (ASF) spreading in large parts of Asia, this research will help the potential spread of the virus, or any other virus’ and diseases that could potentially cause havoc among Canadian farmers. Health regulations are currently in place for cross border transportation of animals, in that the trailer must be cleaned and disinfected before it crosses the Canada-U.S. border.

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