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National Biosecurity Standard for Livestock, Poultry and Deadstock Transportation
Annex 3: Biosecurity best practices for cleaning and disinfection

This section provides guidance and identifies the biosecurity best practices when:

3.1 Scrape-out

Scrape-out, a part of the dry cleaning step, is the first step of cleaning and disinfection. Scrape-out locations are areas that can be a high-risk source of contamination for the transport unit and driver, they may be accessible to all types of transportation units and contain scrape-out material from animal populations of varying disease statuses.

Scrape-out of the transport unit is important because:

  • it minimizes the risk of spreading disease that may be present in the manure, bedding and other secretions left in the transport unit.
  • it is easier to remove organic matter that is stuck to the surfaces of the transport unit when loose material has been removed first.
  • many commercial wash stations will not allow vehicles with livestock or poultry manure into their facilities.

Whenever possible, scrape-out:

  • At destination following unloading to minimize the risk of spreading disease.
  • As soon as possible at a designated scrape-out site because it's difficult to remove manure once it has dried or is frozen to the transport unit.

Prevent contamination of the power unit and transportation unit by following the biosecurity guidance outlined in subsection 2.5.2 – Entering and exiting the power unit.

Drivers should consider the following when choosing or going to a scrape-out location:

  • the scrape-out location complies with provincial and municipal environmental legislation.
  • avoid driving through potential sources of contamination. For example:
    • avoid driving through used bedding, manure, standing water or mud.
    • drive slowly when accessing the scrape-out location to prevent the undercarriage of the transport unit from being contaminated.

When scraping out:

  • remove deck planks and knock off all manure and bedding.
  • remove crates and cages.
  • remove the bulk of the organic materials using a shovel while following a systematic process.
    • work from top to bottom and front to back.
  • remove bags of unused bedding and store them in a location far from clean vehicles and livestock.

3.2 Prepare the transport unit for washing

The pre-wash preparation focuses on taking apart and removing all of the pieces and equipment that are washed and disinfected independently of the main trailer.


  • All objects from the trailer and storage compartments (clothing, boots, tools, equipment, shovels and handling tools)
  • Remove winter panels
  • Decking
  • Crates or cages
  • Dollies
  • Rubber mats

For poultry trailers, open up curtainsFootnote 7.

Transport units and equipment associated with the transportation of animals should be made of, or covered with materials that can withstand repeated cleaning and disinfection. Damaged areas of the transport unit or areas constructed of permeable material should be replaced or repaired to facilitate cleaning and disinfection. If replacement is not possible, then additional inactivation steps such as thermal assisted drying or baking may are recommended.

3.3 Pre-wash rinse

Following scrape-out, smaller loose organic matter will still be present in the trailer. To effectively wash the transport unit, it is essential to first rinse the unit to flush out all loose organic matter. The removal of organic matter during the rinse step will improve the effectiveness of the detergent or degreaser applied during the wash step.

Biosecurity best practice

  • Use clean water.
  • Before applying a detergent or degreaser, remove loose organic matter using a low-pressure and high-volume flush.
  • On vertical or sloped surfaces, always rinse from top to bottom.


The use of a high pressure washer during the rinse step is not recommended since it tends to spread particles rather than flush them out.

When rinsing the transport unit, it is recommended to:

  • use clean water – water that does not contribute to the level of contamination or pathogen load.
  • keep the transport unit on a slight incline (e.g. 2%) to allow water and organic matter to flow out of the back of trailer during the rinse step.
  • use a high volume hose, rinse the exterior and interior of the trailer with clean water to remove any remaining organic material.
  • rinse the transport unit in a way that prevents the re-introduction of organic material from areas that have already been cleaned (see Figure 8). Always work from the:
    • exterior to the interior of the transport unit;
    • top to the bottom.
    • front to the back; and
  • rinse the floor around the transport unit and the hose to prevent organic matter from being re-introduced into the transport unit during the inspection and disinfection steps.
Diagram of a transport unit (power unit and trailer) parked facing left side.
Figure 8: When rinsing the transport unit, avoid re-introducing organic matter from areas that have already been rinsed by starting with the exterior (1), then the interior (2) and working spraying from top to bottom and front to back (3). Modified from the manual entitled "Live Hog Transport Vehicle Wash/Disinfect/Dry Protocols" by the Canadian Swine Health Board 2011.

3.4 Washing

The presence of a biofilm and organic matter impedes the effectiveness of the disinfectant. The use of a detergent or degreaser helps remove organic matter and disrupts any biofilms present in the transport unit. Always follow manufacturer's instructions when using a detergent. For guidance on selecting an appropriate detergent and disinfectant combination, consult a specialist; this could be a veterinarian, product representative, agricultural technical specialist and/or an industry associations. When selecting a detergent or degreaser, it is often a balance between capacity, compatibility, cost and corrosiveness of long-term repeated use.

The application of a detergent or degreaser is most effective when the bulk of organic material has been removed during scrape-out and rinsing. Washing is not complete until all organic matter has been completely removed from the transport unit. It may be necessary to wash the transport unit several times to remove all organic matter.

When washing a transport unit always:

  • follow the manufacturer's instructions when preparing and using the detergent or degreaser.
    • ensure that you are using the recommended concentration and that the water is within the recommended temperature range.
  • apply the detergent or degreaser and;
    • ensure that all surfaces have been covered;
    • work from the outside to the inside;
    • on vertical or sloped surfaces, work from bottom to top (see Figure 8 and 9) and front to back
  • use low to medium water pressure and/or brush to loosen any remaining organic material.
    • If compatible with the detergent or degreaser, use a suitable anti-freezing agent to minimize the risk of freezing.
  • wash the undercarriage and wheels to remove organic material.
A wash station employee applying detergent or degreaser to the curtains of a poultry trailer.
Figure 9: When washing, apply detergent to all surface areas (left) working from the bottom towards the top, as illustrated in this poultry trailer. Rinse the detergent or degreaser and any organic matter working from the top down. Repeat the washing step until all organic matter has been removed.

3.5 Post-wash rinse

If loose, visible organic material is still present in the transport unit following the wash step, then an additional rinse step using a high volume (low pressure) hose is recommended to flush out the remaining organic matter (see Pre-wash rinse – subsection 3.3).

3.6 Inspect

Disinfection is only effective when organic matter has been completely removed from the transport unit. Prior to disinfection, always inspect the transport unit to ensure that all organic matter has been removed. If organic matter is noticed during the inspection step then repeat the washing step. In addition, ensure that there is no pooling of water in the transport unit since pooled water will reduce the effectiveness of the disinfectant. Washing the transport unit on a slight incline (e.g. 2%) will help ensure that there's no pooling of water.

Biosecurity best practice

  • Inspect the transport unit prior to starting disinfection to ensure that all organic matter has been removed.
  • Repeat the wash step if organic matter is still present.

During inspection:

  • ensure that the person doing the inspection is wearing clean clothes and footwear.
  • ensure the trailer is well lit.
    • use a spot light for low light areas within the trailer (see Figure 10), for examples for corners, cracks, storage compartments, inside of an open tubes, etc.
A wash station employee wearing clean coverall and footwear to inspect a transport unit.
Figure 10: When inspecting a transport unit for the presence of organic matter, use a light to inspect a low-lit areas and move gates or doors so that all areas are visible, as illustrated in this livestock transportation unit.
  • move gates or doors so that all areas are visible.
  • inspect any items that were washed separately from the transport unit such as deck planks, crates, dollies, rubber mats, curtains, cages, dividers etc.
    • use a visual inspection checklist to ensure that no areas are missed (refer to Annex 5a for the general visual inspection checklist and Annex 5b for an example of a visual inspection form used for swine transport unit).

3.7 Disinfection

The consultation to identify the detergent should include the identification of a disinfectant. There are several considerations when selecting a disinfectant:

  • effective against pathogens of concern (viruses, bacteria or fungi) that may cause disease in the type of animals transported;
    • ability to significantly reduce the pathogen load or inactivate 99.9 % of the pathogens;
  • cost;
  • corrosiveness of long term repeated use;
  • outside temperature;
  • effective on the surface materials present;
  • personal protective equipment required to use the disinfectant;
  • safe for humans, animals and the environment;
  • management of effluent from the disinfection step;
  • application type (see Table 2).
Table 2: identifies some of the advantages and disadvantages of different disinfectant application types.
Types of applications Pros Cons
Foaming High efficiency – less product is required to cover greater surface areas
Achieves sufficiently longer contact time (adheres)
Complete coverage can be easily seen
Requires specialized equipment (foamer)
Spraying Does not require specialized equipment. May require multiple application to achieve (wet) contact time
Fogging Ensures that the disinfectant reaches all areas Requires special equipment and infrastructure

Ensure that the transport unit surfaces are visibly clean, without pooled water and dry (if possible) prior to applying a disinfectant. Once a disinfectant has been selected, follow the manufacturer's instructions to ensure that you are using the manufacturer's recommended water temperature, concentration, amount and contact time.

Concentration is the amount of disinfectant per litre of water. Disinfectants can be mixed by hand or using equipment. If equipment is used to prepare the disinfectant, then it must be maintained and calibrated on a regular basis as per the manufacturer's direction. For some disinfectants the efficacy is progressively reduced once they are diluted or mixed, therefore it is important dilute or mix immediately prior to use.

When applying the disinfectant it is important to apply enough to completely cover all surface areas. Always apply disinfectants systematically to ensure that no surfaces have been missed. The advantage with coloured or foaming disinfectants is that it's visually apparent when surfaces have been covered.

Contact time is the length of time a disinfectant must remain wet on a surface in order to be effective. Various factors (type of surface, application method, humidity, air flow and temperature) can drastically affect the evaporation rate. It may be necessary to reapply the disinfectant multiple times in order to obtain the recommended contact time. Foaming disinfectants that adhere to surfaces are more likely to remain wet and achieve the recommended contact time when compared to spraying.

Biosecurity best practice

  • Antifreeze agent must be safe for animals, people and the environment.

Cold weather conditions (temperatures below 0° Celsius), result in most disinfectants freezing. Once a disinfectant freezes it is not possible to achieve the recommended concentration and contact time to effectively reduce the pathogen load or inactivation of pathogens. To use liquid disinfectants in freezing temperatures, an antifreeze agent is needed to prevent the liquid from freezing. The amount of antifreeze agent to be mixed with disinfectant may depend on the environment temperature and affect the contact time (see Table 3).Several compounds are classified as antifreeze agents for example; methanol (MeOH), calcium chloride (CaCl2), ethylene glycol and propylene glycol, some agents have pathogen inactivation capacities. The antifreeze agent must be safe for humans, animals and the environment.

Propylene glycol is most commonly used since it does not impact the efficacy of most disinfectants. Consult a disinfectant product representative to identify compatible antifreeze agents, concentrate level, dilution, amount of antifreeze and recommended contact time.

Table 3: Example of the potential effect of adding propylene glycol to a disinfectantFootnote 8.
Disinfectant dilution rate Amount of disinfectant concentrate(ml) Water Propylene glycol Temperature (degrees Celsius) Contact time (minutes)
1:40 25 ml 2.8 L (70%) 1.2 L (30%) 0 to -10 40
1:40 25 ml 2.4 L (60%) 1.6 L (40%) -11 to -15 60
1:40 25 ml 2.4 L (60%) 1.6 L (40%) -16 to -20 80
1:20 50 ml 2.8 L (70%) 1.2 L (30%) 0 to -10 20
1:20 50 ml 2.4 L (60%) 1.6 L (40%) -11 to -15 30
1:20 50 ml 2.4 L (60%) 1.6 L (40%) -16 to -20 40

3.8 Reassembly

The interior of the transport unit, any parts that were removed and equipment must also be disinfected prior to reassembly. Once equipment has been reassembled, apply another layer of disinfectant to the exterior of the trailer. It is important to ensure that personnel involved in the reassembly of the trailer are wearing clean clothing and footwear so that they do not contaminate the trailer.

3.9 Undercarriage, wheels and wheel well cleaning and disinfection

When cleaning and disinfecting a transport unit, it is recommended to include the undercarriage, wheels and wheel wells. The cleaning and disinfection biosecurity best practices outlined above also apply to the undercarriage, wheels and wheel wells. Specialized equipment, such as an undercarriage wash station or long wash wand can facilitate the process.

If the cleaning and disinfection protocol includes driving over an undercarriage wash station after the rest of the transport unit has been cleaned and disinfected, then put in place measures to prevent organic matter or wash water from recontaminating the areas that have already been cleaned and disinfection. Splash guards located just above the undercarriage wash can help mitigate this risk.

Comparison of a dirty undercarriage versus a clean undercarriage.
Figure 11: The photos show a dirty (left-hand side) versus clean (right-hand side) undercarriage before and after it went through an undercarriage wash station.

3.10 Dry phase

Even after cleaning and disinfection, pathogens can be concealed in the smallest of cracks, joints and pitted metal. Some pathogens can replicate in warm and moist environments.

The transport unit should be dried in a clean area and on a slight incline (e.g. 2%) to encourage water to flow out of the transport unit. Drying can occur naturally or by using ventilation and heat treatment in a drying bay. In the winter, it is recommended that transport units be dried in a heated building.

Ideally, drying bays should:

  • be located in the clean area or zone away from contaminated transport units;
  • have restricted access;
    • located in an area that is not accessible to dirty or contaminated vehicles, equipment and staff;
    • only allow transport units that have been cleaned and disinfected into the drying bay;
  • be kept clean.

3.11 Heat treatment

Heat treating a transport unit is a pathogen inactivation step that can be used. The temperature and time that must be achieved for heat treatment to be effective is pathogen specific. For example, PEDv in feces can be effectively inactivated when exposed to high temperature of 71°C for 10 minutes (Thomas et al, 2015). If heat treatment is used as an inactivation step, ensure that the required inactivation temperature is reached and maintained for the appropriate amount of time throughout the transport unit.

During the heat treatment, use probes and timers to ensure that the temperature and time required to inactivate pathogens has been consistently achieved throughout the transport unit. Probes must be placed in a location where it is most difficult to heat (for example, the nose of the trailer or the area furthest away from the heat source).

3.12 Cleaning the interior of the power unit

Care should be taken to keep the power unit clean at all times. Strict biosecurity protocols should be followed by those who have access to the power unit, to ensure that it is kept clean. Pets should never be allowed into the power unit.

Biosecurity best practice

  • Never allow pets to enter the power unit.

Biosecurity protocols for cleaning and disinfection of the power unit and frequency will be based on the level of risk. The protocol for cleaning the interior of the power unit should consider following:

  • use disinfectant wipes to clean all surfaces (see Figure 12).
    • pay particular attention to high contact surfaces such as door handles, the steering wheel, seat belt, accelerator, break, clutch and gear shift.
  • remove all floor mats.
  • clean and disinfect the floor mats.
  • vacuum areas around and under the floor mats.
  • change or clean and disinfect seat covers.
Cleaning and disinfection of interior of the power unit. Description follows.
Description of figure 12:

Figure 12: Illustration of common contact areas in the power unit that require additional attention when cleaning and disinfecting. Photo credit: Ontario Swine Health Board Truck Wash Handbook.

Figure shows cleaning and disinfection of common contact areas of the power unit, for example; gear stick, steering wheel, radio, CD player, door handle, foot rest, accelerator and brake pedals, floor and storage compartments, etc. using a disinfectant spray, clean cloth, brush or vacuum cleaner.

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