Disentangling transport movement patterns of swine trucks

This is a recent publication from the MSHMP team regarding transport patterns within a Midwestern swine system. The full publication is available on the journal’s website.


This project had the following objectives:

  • characterizing vehicle network before and during the COVID-19 pandemic,
  • Understanding vehicle movement: consistency of vehicle movements over time), and time spent at each site


  • 12 owned pig transportation vehicles monitored via tracking devices
  • 7 trucks transporting only recently weaned pigs and 5 trailers that transport either gilts or culled sows.
  • 114 georeferenced pig sites
  • 6,213 records of vehicle trips


12 vehicles moved between 12 sow farms, 8 gilt development units (GDU), 17 nurseries, 71 wean-to-market (WTM), 4 finishers, and 2 truck wash facilities. Locations were in Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Iowa.

 The most common trips were from sow farm to Wean-To-Market sites (19.76%), WTM to truck wash (14.48%), and truck wash to sow farm (20.92%).

Frequency of in-movements by farm-type (%). Graded scale colors represent a higher (red) and lower (white) percentage of movements across dyad connections in the 2 years of study (2019–2020)

Time spent at locations did not vary based on seasons but comparatively, vehicles spent more time at the truck wash than at any other location.

Read the entire publication to learn more about the full description of the movement network.


Transport of pigs between sites occurs frequently as part of genetic improvement and age segregation. However, a lack of transport biosecurity could have catastrophic implications if not managed properly as disease spread would be imminent. However, there is a lack of a comprehensive study of vehicle movement trends within swine systems in the Midwest. In this study, we aimed to describe and characterize vehicle movement patterns within one large Midwest swine system representative of modern pig production to understand movement trends and proxies for biosecurity compliance and identify potential risky behaviors that may result in a higher risk for infectious disease spread. Geolocation tracking devices recorded vehicle movements of a subset of trucks and trailers from a production system every 5 min and every time tracks entered a landmark between January 2019 and December 2020, before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. We described 6,213 transport records from 12 vehicles controlled by the company. In total, 114 predefined landmarks were included during the study period, representing 5 categories of farms and truck wash facilities. The results showed that trucks completed the majority (76.4%, 2,111/2,762) of the recorded movements. The seasonal distribution of incoming movements was similar across years (P > 0.05), while the 2019 winter and summer seasons showed higher incoming movements to sow farms than any other season, year, or production type (P < 0.05). More than half of the in-movements recorded occurred within the triad of sow farms, wean-to-market stage, and truck wash facilities. Overall, time spent at each landmark was 9.08% higher in 2020 than in 2019, without seasonal highlights, but with a notably higher time spent at truck wash facilities than any other type of landmark. Network analyses showed high connectivity among farms with identifiable clusters in the network. Furthermore, we observed a decrease in connectivity in 2020 compared with 2019, as indicated by the majority of network parameter values. Further network analysis will be needed to understand its impact on disease spread and control. However, the description and quantification of movement trends reported in this study provide findings that might be the basis for targeting infectious disease surveillance and control.

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