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National Biosecurity Standard for Livestock, Poultry and Deadstock Transportation
1.0 Introduction

The Biosecurity Standard for Livestock, Poultry and Deadstock Transportation was developed to encourage both commercial companies and independent drivers to incorporate biosecurity measures in their transportation practices. It is a resource to create awareness, to educate, to provide a common understanding of biosecurity and to serve as a reference guide for continuous industry improvement. This document is not intended to be adopted by federal, provincial, or territorial governments to be used for law or regulation. Commodity specific farm level biosecurity guidance is available on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) website.

This document focuses on biosecurity for ground transportation but can also be used for air and sea transport events. The information is presented in two sections: The Transportation of Livestock and Poultry and The Transportation of Deadstock and Rendering Material.

It is recognized that not all of the biosecurity guidance provided in this document will be applicable to every transportation event. Similarly, protocols have been provided in the annexes as examples only and may not be directly transferrable between the transportation of different classes of animals or within operations that transport multiple species of livestock and poultry. It is recommended that transporters consider the guidance provided in this document and work with the various industry sectors and consult specialistsFootnote 1 to develop biosecurity protocols that are specific to the transportation event, the species of animal that is transported and animal disease risks.

Some biosecurity best practices may not be achievable due to gaps in infrastructure and the logistics involved in implementing the best practices. Efforts should be made to identify gaps that impede biosecurity implementation, seek alternative approaches to facilitate biosecurity and work on solutions to improve biosecurity for the transportation sector in Canada.

There is a complex interaction between welfare, biosecurity and stress in the transportation of livestock and poultry. All drivers should be aware of and comply with the Codes of Practice for the Care and Handling of Farm Animals, Codes of Practice for the Care and Handling of Farm Animals: Transportation, as well as humane transportation federal regulationsFootnote 2.

1.1 What is biosecurity?

Biosecurity is the implementation of actions that reduce the chance of introducing and spreading infectious agents that cause animal disease and/or the spread of plant pests. Among the many biosecurity measures that can reduce disease transmission are some simple measures that have little or no cost associated with them. You likely are already implementing many good biosecurity practices without realizing it, for example: wearing clean clothes and clean boots, washing your hands with soap and water or using hand sanitizer before and after handling livestock and/or poultry. The cost of a disease outbreak (e.g. depopulation, cleaning and disinfection, reopening export markets, etc.) can far exceed the cost of implementing biosecurity to minimize the risk of introduction and spread of disease.

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"
Benjamin Franklin

1.2 Why is biosecurity important to your customer and the agricultural community?

Biosecurity implementation can reduce the chance of introduction and spread of disease, thereby minimizing the impact of disease. Implementation of biosecurity best practices in agricultural activities contributes to maintaining a healthy plant and animal resource base, consumer confidence, public trust, as well as maintaining and accessing new markets and opportunities. Flourishing animal and plant agriculture commodities contribute to supporting or providing the foundation for a healthy transport sector.

Disease and pests can:

  • reduce productivity
  • reduce the value of animals and products
  • reduce domestic consumption
  • increase animal health and welfare issues
  • increase veterinary and labour costs
  • reduce the producers' and transporters' incomes
  • close export markets
  • negatively impact the environment and human health

1.2.1 Examples of economic impact of commodity specific disease

Disease examples have been provided to emphasize the impact and cost of disease.

1.2.1.1 Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome

Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) is a viral disease that infects swine and results in poor reproduction, pneumonia in post-weaned pigs, reduced rate of growth and increased mortality in all age groups. In Canada, it is estimated that PRRS costs the Canadian pork industry in the range of $130 million per yearFootnote 3. Transportation is considered an important risk factor for transferring PRRS infection from farm to farm.

1.2.1.2 Porcine epidemic diarrhea

When introduced into naïve populations, porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) outbreaks in young pigs can result in mortality rates between 70 and 100%, thereby having a profound effect on the swine sector. In Canada, PEDv was first diagnosed in Ontario in January 2014 and had spread to over 62 farms in the province within six months of the initial detection (Pasma et al., 2016). Cases were also detected in Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Manitoba.

It is estimated that PEDv outbreaks in Canada will cost producers in the range of $243 to $432 per sow, with varying costs depending on management practices (Engele and Whittington, 2014). The recent outbreak of PEDv in the U.S. in its first year (2013–2014) has resulted in loss of more than 10% of total pig population, amounting to approximately seven million piglets. The economic analysis of PEDv outbreak in U.S. has estimated annual losses of $900 million and $1.8 billion for 3% and 6% annual pig loss scenarios, respectively (Paarlberg, 2014).

Various factors, including transportation, have been shown to contribute to the introduction and spread of PEDv. For instance, the surveying of transport units at PEDv contaminated site (e.g. slaughter facilities, assembly yards and auction marts) demonstrated that transport units are at risk of becoming contaminated and spreading PEDv (Yeske et al, 2014; Lowe & Gauger, 2014). To control the spread of PEDv, various governments, industry associations and transporters continue to work together to increase awareness and promote biosecurity.

1.2.1.3 Equine influenza in Australia

In 2007, an equine influenza (EI) outbreak in Australia cost $263 million in government assistance packages and $97.1 million in disease eradication costs (Smyth et al., 2011).

To prevent the disease from spreading throughout Australia, restrictions on horse movements were implemented soon after the disease was confirmed. These movement restrictions lasted eight months and resulted in the cancellation of 261 Standardbred race meetings. This resulted in economic impacts to those who organized and participated in these event, as well as businesses that generate income because of these events (mainly service providers such as catering, hospitality and the transportation industry). The estimated economic impacts for various groups were:

  • $23.8 million for the Australian Harness Racing Industry's (includes drivers, trainers, owners, breeders, race clubs and state racing authorities);
  • $381 million for households, businesses and horse associations.

1.2.1.4 Avian influenza disease outbreak in 2004

During the avian influenza (AI) outbreak in British Columbia in 2004, 42 commercial poultry farms were infected with the AI virus. In order to stop the spread of the virus, 17 million birds from 125 poultry operations were depopulated (Bowes, 2007). The Government of Canada paid $63.7 million in compensation for birds ordered destroyed (Bowes, 2007).

In addition, the agricultural community sustained a total economic loss of $380.9 million dollars, which included;

  • $216.9 million of direct costs to the poultry industry;
  • $156 million in economic losses for the poultry service industry (such as truck drivers, live-haulers, catching crews); and
  • $7.5 million in one-time losses.

1.2.1.5 Foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in 1952

Canada's last outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) was in 1951–1952 in Saskatchewan. Forty-two premises were involved, of which 29 were infected and 13 were considered in contact. The number of livestock destroyed included: 1,313 cattle, 294 swine, 97 sheep, 1 goat, 2,372 fowl and 15,828 eggs.

The eradication costs totaled $1 million, but owing to the ban on exports, the value of livestock fell by $651 million and $70 million was spent in support prices by the Canadian government. The total loss was $722 million plus one year's loss of trade in livestock and livestock products (Sellers & Daggupaty, 1990).

1.3 Significance of transport

With the availability of efficient transportation and advancements in logistical capacity, animals are transported long distances in relatively short timeframes. During the lifetime of some animals, there may be a high frequency of transport events that occurs. For example:

  • Horses are highly mobile; some travel on a weekly basis to areas where they commingle with other horses, cattle and wildlife.
  • On average, food producing animals have three to four transport events in their lifetime (Serecon Management Consulting Inc., 2015).
  • An approximation of 67 million annual transport events for swine and cattle can be made through extrapolation of the data from the PigTrace Canada and Serecon movement study.
  • In 2015, 576,053 swine transportation events resulted in the movement of 43.8 million swine throughout Canada (Canadian Pork Council, 2016, see Table 1)
  • In 2014, it was estimated that there were over 20 million beef cattle movements (see Figure 1), approximately 4 million dairy and veal cattle movements, and 1.6 million sheep movements (Serecon Management Consulting Inc., 2015).

This data only represents a fraction of the transport events since it does not include data on the poultry, goat, equine or cervid movements. Considering the number of transport events, and that each event provides an opportunity to spread disease, this highlights the need for the transportation industry to implement biosecurity best practices.

The frequency and complexity in the transportation of animals (as illustrated in Figure 1) and deadstock in Canada emphasizes the importance of maintaining animal identification and administrative reports (trip logs) to enable the monitoring of animal movements over large distances and relatively short periods of time. Maintaining the continuity of animal identification during transport events provides the foundation for tracing disease outbreaks back to the source, as well as identifying animals that may have come in contact with infected animals.

Table 1: Total number of swine movements reported to PigTrace by premises type (2015). Data from PigTrace Canada – Canadian Pork Council Traceability and Identification ProgramFootnote 4.
Origin Destination Total
Farm Assembly Yard or Auction Export Fair Lab Slaughterhouse Render / Disposal
Farm 114,013 30,636 7,983 18 302 391,597 21,993 566,542
Assembly Yard or Auction 571 2,107 2,814 2,191 292 7,975
Import 38 6 44
Fair 5 1 6
Lab 108 161 4 82 355
Slaughterhouse 162 967 1,129
Render / Disposal 2 2
Total 114,735 32,910 10,797 19 302 393,954 23,336 576,053
Transportation of beef cattle as a percentage of the national herd to various locations throughout the lifecycle of the animal. Description follows.
Description of Figure 1

Figure 1: This illustrates the transportation of beef cattle as a percentage of the national herd (10.3 million beef cattle representing 76,515 farms, 2013) to various locations throughout the lifecycle of the animal (Serecon Management Consulting Inc., 2015). The individual ID indicates that the person receiving the animals reported individual identification number on the tags applied to an animal. The group ID indicates that the person receiving the animals reported that they received a group of animals, site of origin and species, without providing individual ID numbers. "Unknown" indicates that the person receiving the animals is not required to report animal movements.

Total number of beef cattle = 10.3 million and total number of beef farms = 76,515 (2013).

  • Farm 1 (Individual ID) to Export (Individual ID) = 104 (0.51%)
  • Farm 1 (Individual ID) to Slaughter (Individual ID) = 75 (0.37%)
  • Farm 1 (Individual ID) to Feedlot (Individual ID) = 585 (2.9%)
    • Feedlot (Individual ID) to Slaughter (Individual ID) = 1705 (8.5%)
    • Feedlot (Individual ID) to Export (Individual ID) = 701 (3.5%)
  • Farm 1 (Individual ID) to Auction (Group ID) = 2565 (13%)
    • Auction (Group ID) to Feedlot (Individual ID) = 1683 (8.3%)
    • Auction (Group ID) to Auction (Group ID) = 24 (0.12%)
    • Auction (Group ID) to Slaughter (Individual ID) = 435 (2.2%)
    • Auction (Group ID) to Export (Individual ID) = 103 (0.5%)
    • Auction (Group ID) to Dealer (Unknown) = 540 (2.7%)
    • Auction (Group ID) to Farm 2 (Unknown) = 1210 (6%)
  • Farm 1 (Individual ID) to Pastures (Group ID) = 33030 (15%)
    • Pastures (Group ID) to Farm 1 (Individual ID) = 3030 (15%)
  • Farm 1 (Individual ID) to Fairs (Individual ID) and back to Farm 1 (Individual ID) = 16 (0.08%)
  • Farm 1 (Individual ID) to Dealer (Unknown) = 44 (0.22%)
    • Dealer (Unknown) to Auction (Group ID) = 59 (0.3%)
  • Farm 1 (Individual ID) direct to Farm 2 - Backgrounder (Unknown) = 756 (3.75%)
    • Farm 2 (Unknown) to Export (Individual ID) = 120 (0.6%)
    • Farm 2 (Unknown) to Slaughter (Individual ID) = 531 (2.6%)
    • Farm 2 (Unknown) to Feedlot (Individual ID) = 140 (0.7%)
    • Farm 2 (Unknown) to Auction (Group ID) = 1349 (6.7%)

A percentage of movement between Farm 1 to Feedlot, Feedlot to Slaughter, and Farm 1 to Farm 2 occur through Satellite Auctions.

1.4 How are livestock and poultry diseases introduced and spread during transportation?

There is a tendency for people to place an emphasis on biosecurity when disease has been identified. To minimize the chance of disease introduction, biosecurity should be implemented at all times, including when handling animals that appear healthy. Infected animals do not always show signs of disease; they can appear healthy yet still infect other animals and contaminate equipment, vehicles, hands, clothing, footwear and gloves.
There are two common pathways of disease spread (see Figure 2):

  1. Direct: Direct transmission to susceptible animals occurs via physical contact with infected animal or carcass (for example; through rubbing, licking, breeding, biting, etc.) or through contact with body fluids (for example; blood, saliva, feces, urine, milk), lesions, aerosols (through coughing, sneezing), and other discharges of infected animal or carcass. This includes livestock or poultry that do not look sick but have the disease and can transfer it to another animal, bird or person (zoonotic diseases);
  2. Indirect: Indirect transmission involves an intermediate carrier that becomes contaminated and is a source of infection for susceptible animal. The body fluids (for example; blood, saliva, feces, urine, milk,), lesions, aerosols (through coughing, sneezing), etc. from from infected animals or carcasses can contaminate equipment, vehicles, people (including their clothing and footwear), etc. which may subsequently transmit pathogens to susceptible animal who come in their contact.

    The pathogens can also be indirectly transmitted through living vectors such as birds, rodents or insects that come in contact with the infected animals or their excretion. Shared feed and water which is contaminated by discharges from infected animals can also indirectly transmit pathogens to healthy animals.

Two common pathways of spread of disease. Description follows.
Description of Figure 2

Figure 2: The two common pathways of spread of disease from infected to susceptible animals are: 1) direct transmission from infected to susceptible animals, 2) Indirect transmission through an intermediate carrier.

Spread of disease from infected animal to susceptible animal occur by 1) direct transmission via physical contact or through contact with body fluids, lesions, aerosols of infected animals or carcasses; 2) Indirect transmission occurs through intermediate carriers; for example, vehicles, equipment, people (their clothing, footwear, etc.), other vectors (rodents, insects, or wildlife) and shared feed and water.

The five most common scenarios where disease transmission may occur during a transport event are:

  1. Loading livestock or poultry into a contaminated transport unit. For example:
    1. an unwashed or improperly washed transport unit; or
    2. a transport unit that was contaminated during or following washing.
  2. Contamination of the transport unit at the premises (either during loading or unloading). For example:
    1. service personnel vehicles and facility personnel come into contact with the transport unit and/or power unit;
    2. using or allowing facility equipment to be used inside the transport unit (for example; using a hand barrow, skid steer or tractor from the slaughter facility or farm to remove an injured animal);
    3. docking the transport unit against a facility; and
    4. allowing animals that have come into contact with the destination environment (shoots, pens, paddocks) to return to the transport unit during the unloading process.
  3. Contamination of the premises due to contact with an unclean transport unit/equipment or driver by:
    1. contact with the premises and with animals that are not to be transported;
    2. not respecting separation zones or following farm biosecurity protocols; and
    3. drivers traveling with pets and then entering premises.
  4. Contamination of the animals in the transport unit at a commingling site. Commingling sites are not just limited to animals—people from farms and other drivers that have been on farms commingle as well, such as at restaurants and truck stops. Additional examples include commingling at:
    1. a slaughter facility;
    2. rest stations or areas;
    3. auctions;
    4. assembly yards;
    5. feedlots and transfer docks; and
    6. events such as competitions and exhibition facilities.
  5. Animals are exposed to a pathogen due to contact with contaminated personnel or equipment (either during loading or unloading).
    1. The driver enters the farm or commingling facilities (e.g. offices, restaurants, border customs, slaughter, auction marts, assembly yards) and then enters the power unit and/or animal transport compartment without following biosecurity protocols;
    2. Other people: Facility personnel (e.g. slaughter, assembly yards, auction marts, catching crews) enter the transport unit and handle animals;
    3. Contaminated equipment (e.g. handling boards, rattle paddles and shovels, prods, buckets, poultry gates and nets, etc.) are used.
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