The prevention of disease transfers due to manure handling equipment moving from one farm to the next is essential for your operation. Biosecurity advice often revolves around owning your pumping equipment dedicated to your farm. It also ensures manure equipment was washed, disinfected, and in some cases, had a “downtime” before moving to the following site. These techniques still hold today, but new ideas and innovations have made biosecurity more convenient.
Owning your manure pumping and handling equipment still provides the most biosecure option. It gives complete control over what sites the equipment has been on, how recently it was cleaned and disinfected, and the amount of downtime before it is used.
When working with custom manure haulers, make them aware of any biosecurity requirements for your farm upfront. Please take a moment to inspect their equipment as they arrive to make sure it is clean. Try to work with them to provide cleaning and disinfecting options as they finish your site—review lines of separation and routes through the farm site to maintain biosecurity. Be clear about the health status of a facility. As custom applicators organize their jobs, they can ensure proper biosecurity is maintained. Work from farms with the highest to lowest biosecurity requirements and current health status. Switch the feces species you are hauling as the risk of disease transfer between different livestock is typically lower; when possible, add a cattle job between pig sites.
However, we have also seen equipment changes help make manure withdrawal more biosecure. One challenge with maintaining biosecurity of manure removal is removing a pump-out cover from the barn and dropping an agitator into the manure. The pump-out opening modifies the ventilation system. It often serves as an air inlet; in filtered barns, this weakens biosecurity as air isn’t forced through the filter before entering the pig space. As a result, some farms have begun to switch to a straw or a “mass agitation” system. Rather than opening a pump out cover, the manure pump is hooked directly to the straws built into the pump-out lid to recycle manure back into the barn and one port for manure removal.
In addition to often being the weak link in terms of maintaining the integrity of the barn ventilation system, the drop-in agitation pump is often the hardest to clean and disinfect. These systems, with manure straws, allow pump trailers to be pulled alongside the barn and speed cleaning and disinfecting as because they are not lowered into the manure, they stay cleaner.
An alternative option is to use a pump dedicated to the site to move the load station further away from the building, making maintaining lines of separation much more straightforward. In this way, tractors and tanks have greater maneuverability. There is less risk of manure haulers and farmworkers crossing paths and inadvertently contaminating the clean side of a clean/dirty line. Similarly, the farm site provides the lead pump and a short distance of hose dedicated to the facility when using the dragline application. In this case, it is vital to ensure that the pumping capacity of the supplied lead pump and the rest of the pump system align.
Figure 1. The load station is located away from the facility and in the field to help maintain lines of separation.