Time is money, and time spent in the name of biosecurity is worth every penny. For Hord Livestock, biosecurity is serious business. The hog and cattle operation near Bucyrus, Ohio, beefed up its biosecurity 10 years ago when porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome hit, and that extra effort is paying off today.
In 2005, Hord installed a Bio-Dri system to adequately dry the trucks and trailers moving internally in the 24,000-sow hog operation. “Our trucks and trailers that move out wean pigs, feeder pig movement and shuttle cull sows come through [the Bio-Dri system],” says Matt Davis, chief operating officer for Hord’s swine division. Roughly 30 trucks and trailers run through the Bio-Dri system weekly.
Bio-Dri, a product of Automated Production Systems of Assumption, Ill., is designed to heat trailers to 160 degrees F and sustain that temperature for 10 minutes to kill any lingering porcine epidemic diarrhea virus after the trailer has been thoroughly flushed, washed and disinfected. The system is connected to a structure that looks like a drive-through, single-truck wash bay, but is only used for drying.
Once the truck and trailer are driven into the bay, the heavy-duty ductwork is rolled into place to meet the opening on the back end of the trailer. The facility doors are closed, and the attendant leaves the building to activate the Bio-Dri cycle.
Forty-five minutes to an hour is necessary for each trailer to go through the complete Bio-Dri cycle. “Think about it; you’re bringing in a trailer that’s maybe 20 degrees, so you need to heat up all that aluminum to 160 degrees, which may take 20 to 30 minutes, and then sustain it at that temp for 10 minutes,” Davis says. An infrared sensor, aimed directly at the trailer sidewall, monitors the surface temperature. Once the trailer has been held at 160 degrees for the 10 minutes, the system goes through a shutdown, cool down and purging of all the fumes that had been pumped into the trailer.
Humans cannot be inside the facility while the system is in operation due to fumes being released in the heating process. In fact, if a door is opened to the facility, Bio-Dri will automatically shut down and begin the fume purge process. If the facility attendant tries to shortcut the system, the control system monitoring will indicate that a premature abort occurred, and that will show up in the computerized records. “If someone would try to shortcut the system, we’ll find out,” Davis says.
The Hord employee in charge of the facility will give each trailer a visual inspection for fecal matter and shavings upon completion of the Bio-Dri cycle. As another layer of biosecurity, Hord’s director of safety and compliance, who works at the feed mill, stops by the cold storage “every morning to do an actual check of trailers that went through [Bio-Dri] the previous day and fills out a checklist report, pass or fail,” Davis says.
The only trucks to go through the facility are those that move hogs internally within the Hord system. Finished hogs are hauled to market by a contract trucker, and the Hord operation has its own feed mill, which also has its own truck wash, but not a Bio-Dri system.
Hord Livestock also has about 1,000 head of beef cattle on feed, and the gooseneck trailers that move cattle internally also come through the Bio-Dri system, but not any trailers that had been to a beef packing plant.
Hord also has hog production in the Mercersburg, Pa., area, and the upgraded Bio-Dri II system is in use there. Another Bio-Dri II system is being installed on the south end of Bucyrus.
In the event that a Hord sow farm suffers a PEDV break, each sow farm has a contingency wash bay, where that sow farm’s dedicated truck and trailer would be able to be flushed, washed and disinfected. The driver of the dedicated rig would drive his vehicle to the contingency wash bay. Davis says “torpedo heaters” are used to dry the trailers. “It’s not the Bio-Dri system, but it works.”
Until needed, these contingency wash bays will be used for storage. “We hope we never have to use these,” Davis says.
Monitoring traffic flow
Hord Livestock also pays close attention to the traffic of other products and supplies coming into its facilities. Hord feed mill employees require that trucking companies delivering grain and ingredients disclose what and where they have been hauling, “so we can be aware of any issues that might be coming in,” Davis says.
Any packages delivered to a farm are dropped off in a shed at the edge of the farm that is solely for the receiving of outside packages. “The UPS or FedEx driver enters one door to drop off the packages, and then our farm personnel enter another door so we don’t cross paths,” he says.
The bulk of the Hord hog supplies come from Carthage Veterinary Service in Carthage, Ill., which Davis says has a dedicated truck that has been washed, disinfected and had downtime to ensure cleanliness.
Once supplies are brought to each sow farm, they are brought to what Davis calls a “fume room,” where the supplies are placed on a metal grate deck and are exposed to a timed mist of Synergize disinfectant, after which exhaust fans clear the room and personnel access the supplies from the “clean” side.
Biosecurity top to bottom
Each of the 160 Hord employees, whether they work with the hogs, cattle, feed mill or the shop, is on board with the strict biosecurity measures in place in the operation. Each new hire, before actually going into a barn, goes through standard operating procedures on biosecurity. All sow facilities are shower-in, shower-out, “even if you just have to go outside to check a feed bin, you shower out, and shower when you come back in,” Davis says.
Employees are encouraged to bring their lunches to work, reducing traffic through each facility.
“We encourage employees to come for the day, stay for the day,” Davis says.
Lunches that are brought in are double-bagged, and the outside bag is removed when the employee enters the facility, and the remaining lunch bag is then placed in a ultraviolet germicidal box for a 10-minute cleansing.
The Hord operation has its own maintenance crew to handle welding, fabrication and minor electrical issues, but they also work with a local electrician who understands the need for tight biosecurity. “He is on-call for us, and he doesn’t work for any other hog farms,” Davis says.
Hord’s Crawford County, Ohio, location is a benefit to the operation’s biosecurity mission, as there is not a large hog population. “There is one other sow farm in the next county over, south of us, and they have high health security as well,” Davis says