Pig producers are set to benefit from a new project improving biosecurity measures for hauliers transporting stock to and from abattoirs.

The Lorry Washing Project, run by BPEX, has already gained support from 12 out of the 18 main abattoirs in England, and aims to ensure hauliers have sufficient facilities to wash and disinfect their lorries after transporting pigs for slaughter.

BPEX knowledge transfer manager, Colin Stone, said: “We are, as an industry, investing a lot of money into health and it can be seen that the farmers are doing their bit. But some of the abattoirs are letting us down.

“However, if we can work together to improve our health status we can produce more pigs and our costs can be lowered.”

He said the project was spurred on by the 2002 DEFRA-commissioned study Driver stressors in the livestock haulage sector, which found 85% of drivers didn’t always wash down lorries at the delivery site.

In addition, of the hauliers asked whether the washdown facilities were satisfactory, 52% of self-employed and 25% of employed hauliers said no.

“We have independently assessed the main abattoirs in England, and scored them using our developed ideal worksheet of what we think is the best practice,” said Mr Stone.

“It’s the responsibility of the abattoirs to have the facilities in place, but it’s also about training the hauliers and creating a sense of shared responsibility between the haulier, farmer and abattoir.”

washdown table

Pig producer and livestock haulier Harvey Brown said: “The whole project is about trying to get abattoirs to put in place the correct disinfecting facilities.

“The main issues we have with biosecurity at abattoirs is that although the lorries are washed out they are not generally disinfected, because the driver is not used to it. It’s unacceptable.”

He said the industry needed to get the message across to hauliers about how easily diseases can be transmitted. “It’s about re-educating them [the hauliers] about it all. We need to make sure that the lorries are as clean as possible.”

Cranswick Country Foods’ Norfolk abattoir is involved in the project and has worked to improve its washdown facilities, incorporating questionnaires and inspections for drivers on site.

Head of operations Simon Taylor said: “When a lorry arrives we ask the drivers what they are going to do, how qualified they are and what their understanding is of the rules and regulations.

“Depending on their answer, we give them a standard operating procedure. We also do an exit check scoring them on a scale of 1-10, and it goes into a database to try and give feedback to the haulier owners.”

He said he hoped to help other abattoirs establish similar facilities because it was in their interests to maintain a high level of biosecurity.

“We have to work together with the industry, because at the end of the day, if there is an outbreak of disease, it affects us too,” he added.