Staying current on transportation trends requires continuous evaluation and commitment. That’s why the National Pork Board, Des Moines, Iowa, made revisions to its Transport Quality Assurance (TQA) program. The Pork Checkoff's enhanced TQA curriculum not only focuses on safe handling, but also emerging diseases such as PEDV and biosecurity.
"Consumers are hungry for information on how their pork is raised—from the farm to the table," says Sherrie Webb, animal welfare director. "That need for information is about more than what happens on the farm and extends to how that animal is safely and humanely transported from farm to market. That's why keeping current on transportation trends is so critical."
The updated program also provides a new approach to understanding basic pig behavior and body language, and how it contributes to a safe and positive experience for both the pig and the handler.
"Calm pigs are easier to handle than excited, agitated pigs. Handling will be easier, and pigs [will be] less likely to become agitated and bunch together if handlers use basic pig behavioral principles," says Webb. "An important part of effectively using pig behavior during handling procedures is learning how the pig perceives and responds to the handler in different situations and environments."
Additionally, adapting to changes in weather, especially temperature extremes, costs the U.S. pork industry millions of dollars annually. Handlers and transporters must understand the affect weather can have on pigs during transport, and how best to protect them during extreme weather. The revised TQA program teaches transporters the importance of planning ahead and properly bedding and boarding trailers.