Modernizing Livestock Transportation: Evaluating 7 Innovations
Transporting livestock is often more complicated than it first appears. Any unnecessary stress, movement or discomfort can jeopardize the animals’ health, even resulting in death. Thankfully, innovative technology can help keep livestock safe and comfortable throughout their journey.
Livestock transportation doesn’t have a reputation for being a tech-centric field. It remains relatively low-tech in many circumstances, but that’s starting to change. As farms expand their technology adoption, transport innovations have likewise accelerated.
Here are seven new technologies improving livestock transportation today. They can maintain animals’ comfort and improve operations across the board.
1.Real-Time Monitoring Systems
One of the most disruptive innovations in this sector is real-time remote monitoring. Internet of Things (IoT) sensors can collect data from inside livestock trailers and transmit it wirelessly to provide more insight into changing conditions. Farmers, transporters and other stakeholders can then make necessary adjustments as issues arise to prevent disaster.
IoT sensors monitor environmental factors like temperature and humidity, alerting drivers when they fall below acceptable conditions. Without these real-time alerts, trailer conditions could endanger livestock and drivers would have no way of knowing until they stop. An early warning system lets them take corrective action before animals get stressed, injured or die.
Similar systems transmit audio and video feeds to remote stakeholders. This way, companies can monitor livestock in transit themselves without being physically present. Stakeholders can use these feeds to watch for warning signs or as quality assurance.
2.IoT-Supported Trailer Disinfection
IoT technologies can also provide helpful contextual information when cleaning and disinfecting livestock trailers. Washing them after transport is crucial, but it can also create new health risks if any moisture remains. Livestock businesses use a process called baking to counteract this and prevent bacterial growth, and the IoT makes it more precise.
Baking protects animals’ health by removing any moisture from the trailer where pathogens may grow. Temperatures have to reach 167 F for 15 minutes, which can be difficult to judge across an entire trailer. IoT sensors can provide real-time updates on temps at various points throughout the trailer, removing any guesswork.
These sensors reveal if one area is cooler and needs more time under heat to remove pathogens. Similarly, they let users know when they’ve fully sanitized the trailer, preventing unnecessary energy costs from heating for too long.
3.Hydraulic Lift Decks
Getting livestock in an out of the trailer can be an issue. Ramps are typically safer than step-up trailers because they reduce pressure on animals’ joints and remove the risk of missing a step when backing out. New technology can go a step further by lifting them in and out of the trailer.
Hydraulic lift decks work like elevators, keeping animals on a level surface as they raise them to a new area. Livestock don’t need to walk up an incline at all, reducing stress on their legs. It also helps avoid complications that may arise with getting particularly stubborn animals to go up a ramp.
Of course, hydraulic lifts aren’t ideal for every type of livestock. Larger animals like cows may still have to use ramps, but lift decks work well for smaller ones like pigs.
4.Air Filtration Technology
Most livestock trailers today feature little ventilation beyond holes cut in the sides. This enables continuous airflow and can regulate temperature, but its efficacy largely depends on the weather and conditions within the trailer. Air filtration technology provides more precision and control.
Once again, IoT technology can help. Just as smart HVAC systems regulate air quality and temperature according to changing real-time needs, IoT systems can do the same for livestock trailers. They continuously monitor air quality indicators to maintain clean, fresh air at all times.
These systems can also alert users when they need to change filters. They can then ensure no airborne contaminants affect their livestock’s health or comfort. This prevents disease and death and improves comfort, which can enhance meat quality.
5.AI Route Optimization
One aspect of livestock transportation that may go overlooked is route planning. Studies show that minimizing transportation time and stops positively impacts animal welfare, and reducing travel time can also lower costs. Artificial intelligence (AI) can help businesses find the best routes to meet these goals.
AI algorithms can analyze various factors, including real-time developments like traffic and weather, to find the best possible routes. Drivers can then transport livestock as efficiently as possible, minimizing their time in unfavorable conditions within the trailer. These algorithms can also account for things like hills and turns that can impact animal comfort.
AI route optimization is already seeing growing adoption in logistics providers. Agricultural businesses can follow suit, using these readily available tools to keep animals safe and comfortable and lower transportation costs.
Livestock businesses can use tracking technologies to monitor driver behavior. Telematics systems track vehicle actions like speed, acceleration and braking, which can show of how drivers act on the road. These are often a component of the good driver discounts many insurers offer, but they can help livestock transportation, too.
Driving habits have a substantial impact on animal comfort and health. Drivers that take turns too sharply, accelerate too quickly or brake too harshly may cause livestock to lose their footing. Even if animals don’t fall over, they may become stressed.
Telematics systems can reveal when drivers engage in these behaviors, helping businesses praise good driving and reprimand poor habits. They can then develop better driving behavior throughout their fleet, maximizing animal welfare in transit.
7.AI Health Analytics
Another easily overlookable but crucial part of safe livestock transportation is measuring animal health risks. Livestock with high-risk conditions should never be transported, and others carry unique transport requirements. Understanding these risks before loading trailers is critical, and AI analytics can help.
It can be difficult to determine risk factors just by looking at an animal. However, AI algorithms are skilled at noticing trends and piecing together seemingly disparate data points, so they can understand complex factors better. These analytics can provide a better picture of livestock health, informing safer transport decisions.
This area of AI is still new, so applying it may come with several challenges. However, as the technology advances and becomes more accessible, it could help avoid transport errors and protect animal health.
New Technology Can Keep Livestock Safe in Transport
Technology can improve virtually every aspect of livestock transportation. Transport will become safer and more comfortable for animals as more businesses implement these innovations, creating a better end product for their owners and buyers.
Some of these innovations are still in their infancy, while others are already widely available. Still, regardless of their point in development, each represents substantial promise in the livestock transportation industry.
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