Millions of pigs move safely on Manitoba highways every year to their destination, led by dedicated and trained haulers. It takes many people working in our province’s pork sector to get high-quality protein to your plate.
In Canada, rules for transporting livestock fall under the responsibility of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). CFIA conducts oversight and enforcement activities, as well as spot inspections, to ensure that both farmers and transporters have followed all rules around animal care. These enforcement activities can take place on farm, at processing facilities, at international borders, or in transit. The federal Health of Animals Regulations cover requirements for how many pigs can be put on a trailer at a given time. Several variables, including the size of the animal, temperature and weather conditions, the type of trailer, and the length of the journey are all considered before pigs are loaded at the farm. This is done so pigs are comfortable during transport and get to their destination safely. In Manitoba, very few pigs have any issue while being transported. To further assist in this effort, Manitoba Pork has developed an online Transport Density Calculator that is available to farmers and transporters to help determine proper load sizes.
Farmers and transporters must ensure the safety of animals. Trucks and trailers are highly ventilated in warmer months to ensure the pigs are comfortable. Pigs are provided with water up until they are loaded and as soon as they are unloaded. A common misconception is that pigs are thirsty on the truck or that they are in danger. Most transports in Manitoba are under four hours in length, and pigs are certainly comfortable without water in that short time frame.
When it comes to extreme weather, trailers and transporters are prepared for anything. Warm temperatures are contained by steady air movement and trailer design, which allows for pigs to be cooled down. As well, fewer animals are hauled in trailers as temperatures rise to allow for even more airflow between animals, carrying away the pigs’ body heat. In case of traffic jams or other delays at facilities, transporters have contingency plans to ensure the pigs remain safe and comfortable. For example, if there is a delay for some reason at the delivery point, transporters will continue to drive around to keep the pigs cool until they can safely be unloaded.
In cold weather, winter panels are used to seal the trailers, and a combination of natural body heat combined with heavy straw bedding ensures that the pigs stay warm and comfortable. The winter panels cover most air holes other than the very front slots that allow for some minimal airflow. Special care is taken to ensure proper density in cold weather as well, taking precaution that enough pigs are onboard for their collective body heat to keep every single pig warm.
To ship to a federally inspected processing facility, drivers and transport companies are required to receive Transport Quality Assurance (TQA) training. TQA is a certification program that trains transporters and producers on how to properly handle, move, and transport pigs. Drivers receive a three-year qualification, and Manitoba’s processing facilities insist on driver training documentation at the time of delivery. Drivers are also required to carry documentation on density and other details of the trip to share with the processing facilities, and with CFIA if it is requested. All new Class 1 truck drivers in Manitoba also must receive their Mandatory Entry Level Testing required by the provincial government. Manitoba Pork has funded research to better support the safe care and transport of pigs in our province and across the country, as well as research on optimizing trailer designs to ensure the pigs are as comfortable and safe as possible, even in extreme weather. Emergency response trailers are in place to quickly deal with accidents involving livestock trailers should they arise. These units safeguard the welfare of the pigs involved in these rare accidents, as well as the safety of other motorists.
Farmers and transporters in Manitoba are dedicated to ensuring that pigs arrive safely at their destination, because fragile supply chains are dependent on one another and because nobody benefits from the unsafe transportation of pigs. A focus on quality and safety ensures that pork raised and processed here in Manitoba remains among the highest quality pork in the world.
To learn more, visit manitobapork.com/transport