Development and assessment of unconventional mortality management for swine
A foreign animal disease outbreak or other catastrophic event in the swine industry resulting in the need to depopulate facilities will result in large numbers of mortalities. If these mass mortalities are responded to improperly, an economic burden and worse, a threat to biosecurity will be created. Current methods to dispose of swine mortalities include composting bins for routine carcass disposal, composting windrows, shallow burial, landfill disposal, rendering for non-infected carcasses, and incineration. However, these existing methods pose a risk to biosecurity if the animals were diseased with a highly pathogenic virus. Removing carcasses from an infected facility poses an immediate threat to biosecurity because of the exposure of the pathogen to the environment via air, water, soil, vegetation, or fomites (i.e., people, vehicles, and carcass handling equipment); therefore, more biosecure methods of mortality management strategies are needed for swine. The goals of this thesis research were to create a novel mobile test facility replicating a typical swine finishing barn, validate the facility performance, and execute tests for in-barn carcass management strategies inside the facility to characterize carcass response. This thesis describes the design, construction, and validation of a mobile two-room swine production discovery lab with an instrumentation room. The laboratory featured a concrete slatted floor with a pit and ventilation system comprised of an unvented forced air combustion furnace, wall fan, and bi-flow actuated attic inlet in each discovery room. The discovery rooms were remotely monitored and controlled by a building automation controller in the instrumentation room of the laboratory. The validation and quantification of discovery room characteristics demonstrates functional performance and capability of the laboratory to house varying types of experimentation and range of operating conditions. The inclusion of environmental sensing equipment in the novel laboratory allows thermal and other environmental parameters to be monitored in each of the discovery rooms. This data allowed comparison of environmental effects seen in each discovery room based on carcass treatment for mortalities. Knowledge of environmental impacts on building construction and gas and odor production of carcass management in-house will help inform future research for in-barn carcass management strategies. Additionally, knowledge of carcass decomposition rates and internal carcass temperature will help gauge when mortalities can be removed from group-housed confinements to continue decomposing using an established carcass management method. This research will assist the swine industry by providing more biosecure in-barn alternatives to carcass management than existing methods in the event of a disease outbreak or other mass mortality event. This thesis will advance the existing knowledge of in-barn strategies for swine and, if adopted, will aid in reducing disease spread due to poor carcass management.