How does this little piggie get to market? Livestock truck drivers
Iowa is not only a national leader in corn, hog and egg production; our state is also the center of the food and farm transportation system in the U.S.
Specifically, truck transportation is an important link in the U.S. food supply chain. Nearly 80% of all ag commodities (corn, soybeans, meat and poultry, etc.) are shipped by truck at some point, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
And each day, more than 500,000 farm animals – not including chickens and turkeys – are transported on Iowa roads, according to the Iowa Department of Transportation.
Modern livestock trailers, operated by highly skilled drivers, are equipped with the latest technology to ensure that farm animals are transported as safely and stress-free as possible.
Tyler Rosburg, owner of Rosburg Transportation in Charter Oak, says biosecurity and preventing potential disease spread among farms is the No. 1 priority of drivers who work with pigs.
“We do our best to protect the herd,” Rosburg says.
Between trips, all livestock trucks are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected at specially designed truck washes.
Livestock trucks are also heat treated – or “baked,” as drivers say –to thoroughly dry the trailers and kill any viruses or bacteria.
“Our pig drivers are the most strict about biosecurity,” Rosburg explains. “We were doing all of this way before COVID. Little things like putting on clean boots and washing hands, even wearing masks. We’re cautious of those things.
“There’s way more to it than sitting behind a wheel,” he adds.
Rosburg says all his drivers complete the pork industry’s Transport Quality Assurance (TQA) training to ensure they are following science-based best management practices for handling and hauling pigs.
The livestock trucking industry is continually working to improve transportation technology to keep farm animals – and drivers – secure and comfortable on the road, Rosburg says.
“We’re always looking to make a safer trailer,” Rosburg says. “(Truck) fleets learn from each other and are always looking for ways to improve.”
Today, trailers are equipped with gates and loading/unloading ramps that are safer for the animals. Drivers also can adjust the ventilation panels on the trailers to adjust the temperature and air circulation depending on the weather.
Farmers and drivers are more focused nowadays on “thinking like a pig,” Rosburg says. They work to keep animals as stress-free as possible during loading, transport and unloading.
“I’m proud to be part of an industry that is always looking for a better way,” Rosburg says. “It’s about creating the perfect protein to feed families and the world.”
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