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Blog September 2020 Updated November 2021

How technology helps to improve animal wellbeing and health during transport

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Jan Tønder Intelligent Optimization Solution Advisor

Healthy and stress-free animals. During transport, there is nothing more important for livestock.

Doing well the whole time is of an absolute priority. Transport time is determined by the time frame which allows the animals to be on the truck. State-of-the-art technologies enable the planning to keep the transport time to a minimum and with that to improve the health and wellbeing of the animals during their transit.

EU regulation on the welfare of animals in transport dictates that both transporters and farmers have the legal responsibility to ensure their animals are transported in a way that won’t cause injury or unnecessary suffering to them. European law applies to all live, vertebrate animals transported for economic reasons. Local authorities have the primary responsibility for enforcing the rules to protect animals during transportation.

The rules vary depending on the journey length or duration. Welfare rules during transport amongst others require animals to be fit to travel and they are checked regularly. All journeys should be logged (date, time, duration etc). There are different requirements for journeys up to and over 8 hours for transport documents and animal transport vehicles.

Additionally, also species-specific requirements are set to assure animal wellbeing and health during transport. The rules also lay down which different types of animals are allowed to be transported together such as cows, chickens or pigs. Driver and handlers have to be competent and are not allowed to use any violence or any methods likely to cause fear, injury or suffering.

Keeping transport time to a minimum

To ensure animal movements are within the law EU measures recommend planning journeys thoroughly and keep the duration to a minimum. Transport time is the time from departure to arrival at the destination, including stops and loading and unloading. Where transport times are concerned there is a difference between transport of animals for breeding or slaughter.

The planning of the transport of animals for slaughter is amongst others dictated by the production planning of the slaughterhouse – how many animals is the slaughterhouse capable of slaughtering at any given time?

Animals for breeding are transported between farms therefore, the planning for these journeys is determined by different factors such as coordinating the visiting times on the different farms and the rules for the combined transport of different species. Additionally, there are also rules for young animals who are not fully grown yet. If this applies this changes the specs of the transportation requirements and as a result the planning of the transport.

Assuring the transport of specific pathogen-free animals

To ensure the transport of specific pathogen-free (SPF) animals there is a very strict set of planning rules when it comes to health. These rules have to be followed and it is a required procedure to implement the SPF rules in a Transaction Process System (TPS). The planner is notified when rules are violated or transport is blocked if the violation is too severe. In general, the rules define an allowed sequence of visits on a partial trip and on a trip, including quarantine (12/24 hours), health rules, loading and unloading of the animals, and the defined control group.

There are different phases of the health stage varying from stage 1 (tested negative for a disease) to stage 5 (tested positive for a disease). Based on the disease statuses for each customer, a health profile is defined. For example, the health status of ‘111115111115’ means that the customer is tested positive for two diseases and negative for all others.

During transport also a health profile is defined for each vehicle which according to the TPS system is defined in primary, direct or route. When there are animals on the vehicle, it is not allowed to drive to a stop with a better health status for any of the diseases. For example, a vehicle declared positive (5) is not allowed to drive to a customer with a negative (1) status. When the vehicle is empty, the status from the highest-ranking pickup defines the route order, for instance: Pickup (1) -> Delivery (5) -> Pickup (1) -> Delivery (3) -> Delivery (4) -> Pickup (3) -> Delivery (5).

State-of-the-art technology provides the best possible planning solution

For planning livestock transport this leads up to a whole set of EU, legal and transport rules who strictly have to be followed. It is not unthinkable that this set a series of challenges. In that respect, state-of-the-art technology combined with IoT (Internet of Things) can provide the best possible planning methods to do so.

This innovative technology offers unprecedented possibilities even just-in-time planning for animals for breeding and slaughter animals transport. Since this guarantees the shortest possible transport time these capabilities are especially relevant for planning livestock routes and with that to assure the health and wellbeing of the animals. Due to the real-time data exchange, it provides the all-important possibility to react to unexpected changes in transport.

For instance, if due to circumstances the capacity of a slaughterhouse at a certain point is not sufficient a route can be re-optimized to transport the livestock to another slaughterhouse to prevent unnecessary waiting time. With this, the next-generation technologies deliver the shortest possible time to transport livestock guaranteeing their health, wellbeing and safety.

AMCS Intelligent Optimisation solutions

AMCS Intelligent Optimisation is a state-of-the-art technology that delivers a complete planning, dispatch and execution solution for the transport of livestock slaughterhouse animals. The system takes into account all applicable laws and regulations amongst the ones set by the EU. AMCS Intelligent Optimisation offers a fully integrated and end-to-end portfolio of solutions for selected industries such as livestock. These industry-specific solutions are developed to support the AMCS strategy focussing on driving revenue growth, margin expansion, operational efficiency and sustainability. AMCS lives up to those words with a product and development team of around 200 people, currently investing 20% of overall turnover in product development.

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