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Rethinking supply entry sanitation

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Previous research on using time and temperature to sanitize livestock trailers provides a precedent we can build upon for supply entry.  

Within the swine industry it is common knowledge that biosecurity serves as an important pillar to prevent the introduction of infectious diseases. Throughout the years, many routes have been identified as a potential source of entry such as animals, people, equipment or supplies. Practices such as isolation facilities, Danish entries and chemical disinfectants have been implemented to decrease the likelihood of a disease entering the farm.

Research is done continually to determine the most practical and effective methods for the variety of items that enter farms. It is up to us with the pork community to implement best practices within our farms to ensure a healthy herd.  

The majority of swine farms have specific protocols for entry into farms, including their supplies and equipment. A common practice includes a supply entry room with a fogger that applies chemical disinfectant to the items in the room. While in theory this method seems ideal, it has been found to not be as effective as we previously assumed and recent research demonstrates we could be missing up to 75% of surfaces on those incoming supplies. In fact, a study done by Carthage Veterinary Services demonstrated that manually spraying items with disinfectant is significantly more reliable and achieves more coverage in comparison to foggers.

Now while spraying items in small quantities is realistic and doable, the reality is larger quantities of supplies such as a monthly supply delivery to a large sow farm can be more difficult and time consuming. In some cases, the individual spraying of chemical disinfectant on our large supply deliveries may not be practical to execute, particularly in a world of constrained labor resources.

The method of using time and temperature as a sanitation process is not a new concept, but it is a reliable and reasonable option for most supply entry situations. This is because most bacteria and viruses will be inactivated without chemical disinfection if given enough time. 

Previous research on using time and temperature to sanitize livestock trailers provides a precedent we can build upon for supply entry.  It is recommended that objects be stored at room temperature (68°F) for seven days or at 160°F for 10 minutes. Either is an adequate method to deactivate the common viral and bacterial pathogens of primary concern for a swine farm.

While trailers might not enter farms, they certainly come into contact with farms and, thankfully, many modern truck washes have the necessary equipment to heat and dry transportation trailers. Truck washes have become a critical point in the transportation of pigs as trailers haul pigs from site to site and need to be clean when encountering high health herds.

An effective method to mitigate disease transmission via trailers is thermo-assisted drying and decontamination. This includes a heater with fans to move the hot air throughout the trailer to heat and dry the entire trailer. Additionally, there is software that has been created to ensure that trailers are heated to a certain point (160°F) for the correct amount of time.

The golden standard for decontaminating a trailer includes removing all the organic matter from the trailer, washing it and then heating and drying the entire trailer. Ideally, every trailer should be inspected prior to leaving the truck wash and heading to a site. Unfortunately, sometimes the golden standard can not be obtained due to time constraints or necessary movements of animals.

Research has shown that trailers with the organic material removed and baked at 160°F for 10 minutes is sufficient to prevent disease transmission. So, in the case that a trailer cannot be washed, but can be heated and dried then the likelihood of disease transmission is decreased. However, it is still recommended to scrape, wash and use TADD to practice the best biosecurity.

Most farms do not have the ability to heat a room to 160°F, and even when we can heat a room to that temperature, many supplies would be damaged within that environment. Most farms already have a room for supply entry and only need a door lock and a sheet of paper.

It is suggested that every supply door have a lock to prevent entry into the room after new supplies have been added and a data sheet to track the number of days since entry. This will ensure that the supplies have enough time to become decontaminated prior to being introduced into the farm.

The idea of not being able to access supplies immediately may be worrisome to some farm team members, which is why ordering supplies routinely and monthly can help offset the downtime. If a farm does want to utilize time and temperature for supply entry, then ordering two months of supply for the very first month will allow farms to then get into a routine and ensure they have the products they need.

For smaller entries not included in the monthly shipment or for refrigerated items, spraying with a disinfectant is a great and effective method. Restricting this method to heat refrigerated or emergency supply entries makes this labor-intensive job practical to execute when needed.

Research will continue to improve biosecurity practices within the swine industry. What used to be the standard will continue to be challenged and replaced as we continue to learn and innovate our best management practices. The benefits of time and temperature and TADD are that they require no products or disinfectants. As heat is pervasive, no area can be missed, nor forgotten. The entire surface of supplies entering or contacting the farms will become decontaminated if given enough time at the right temperature.

Source: Rachel Patton, who is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset. The opinions of this writer are not necessarily those of Farm Progress/Informa.

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