Did you know that an average sized feeder pig creates about ten pounds of manure each day?? That’s so much pig manure. Every. Single. Day. What should you do with all of that pig manure?
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Raising pigs creates a lot of manure…
The past few years we have raised pigs. We’ve raised pigs on pasture and we are currently keeping pigs on concrete. It doesn’t matter how you keep them, they are going to create manure.
As I mentioned above, an average sized feeder pig (less than 270 pounds) creates about ten pounds of manure each day.
If you have pigs that you use for breeding purposes, like me, you may have pigs that weigh well over 400, 500 or 600 pounds. If that’s the case, you’ll have close to 20 pounds of manure to deal with each day.
Let me put that in perspective for you. I’ve got three large pigs right now. Two that weigh about 600 pounds and one that weighs close to 700 pounds.
Between the three of them, they may produce close to 75 pounds of manure each day. EACH. DAY.
Manure is natural, so why worry about it?
First of all, if you have pigs, you’re probably well aware that they smell. When I say smell, I mean, like could run your neighbors away smell.
One of the best ways to cut back on the smell that they produce is to manage their manure.
Pigs naturally have an odor. If you allow the manure to build up, the smell will be almost unbearable.
Secondly, if your pigs aren’t housed indoors then you’ll want to manage their manure to help decrease the amount of flies that bother them. This is especially true for lighter colored pigs. Flies are more attracted to lighter colored animals because they can see them easier.
Guess what color some of the most popular pig breeds are? White!
Flies will drive your pigs crazy.
Pigs can’t easily scratch their bodies and often fall victim to flies because they can’t get them off. I spend a good bit of time each day making sure my pigs have fly spray and don’t have flies eating them alive on their backs. Keeping manure to a minimum in their pen helps keep the flies at bay.
My favorite fly spray is this Bronco fly spray. It’s cheap, effective and has a nice smell. It doesn’t smell like chemicals like some of the other fly sprays do.
Pigs cannot sweat.
Therefore they will try to lay in mud, water or manure to get their skin wet in the summer to help themselves cool off. I have found my pigs covered in muck more than a few times.
I try to put water on my pigs every day when it’s hot so that they don’t lay in the manure in their pen. However, there have been a few times when I’ve caught them laying in it.
Laying in manure is just plain gross. Not to mention that we are raising pigs for meat. I personally don’t want to eat meat that has been laying in manure.
Lastly, it’s not sanitary.
Pig manure has bacteria in it just like any other manure. If the pigs lay in the manure or consume part of it, (which, if it’s lying around long enough, some will) it could lead to illnesses. If you have pigs that you are breeding, you don’t want your pigs laying in manure.
Manure (with its bacteria) could get into the reproductive tracts of the pigs. Some types of bacteria will cause reproductive problems and can even cause abortions in pregnant sows.
If you have pigs that you are planning on breeding, you may want to read my article about What to Expect with Pregnant Pigs.
So what do you do with all of that pig manure?
This is a question that I am still answering myself. Since our pigs are raised on concrete, we can really tell that the manure adds up.
We have to clean manure a couple of times per week. The manure piles up very quickly. Again, we do have three very large pigs that do produce large amounts of manure.
There are many options available for large commercial pig producers to handle manure. The same options can be scaled down for smaller farmers.
Hobby Farms recommends four methods for managing all types of manure, including pig manure. These options include on-pasture management, composting, stockpiling and removing manure.
1. On-Pasture Pig Manure Management
This is the easiest option for people who keep their pigs on pasture.
Essentially, you will monitor the health of the soil and utilize the manure in a way that will improve the health of the pastured area.
Depending on the size of the pastured area, you may be able to get away with leaving the manure as is on the field. If the area is more densely packed with pigs, then you’ll want to spread the manure around the pasture rather than leaving it to decompose.
You can spread the manure around with a spreader, harrow or even a small section of chain link fence weighted down behind a four-wheeler. Any of these methods will help to spread the manure around.
Leaving the manure on the pasture allows it to act like a fertilizer. If you have your soil tested yearly, make sure that you add any nutrients that you may need to the pasture. Pig manure may not meet all of your soil’s nutritional needs.
If you’re interested in keeping healthier pastures, you need to read my article that explains why you need native grasses on your farm. You’ll also want to check out my post about feeding your plants. Grasses need to be fed properly just like other plants!
2. Composting for Pig Manure Management
Composting manure is an option for those who keep their pigs indoors or on concrete as it can be easily scooped and relocated to the composting area.
Pig manure is extremely rich and nutrient dense.
It makes an excellent fertilizer and soil additive. However, it is so strong that it is considered ‘hot’. The nutrients in pig manure are so dense that they can burn the roots of plants.
Not good if you intend to use it as a fertilizer!
Pig manure can also carry some of the same germs that can cause people to get sick.
Pigs have bodies and immune systems that are built very similar to ours (Fun fact- many heart valves that humans receive come from pigs!) and therefore carry some germs that can make us ill.
Those germs can be passed along in manure.
The ‘hotness’ and germs of pig manure lead many farmers to compost manure before using it as a fertilizer. If you are putting the manure onto pasture that animals are going to be consuming, then it isn’t as big of a deal. If you plan on using it to fertilize your garden soil with, then definitely compost it first.
You’ll also want to compost pig manure if you plan on using it as a fertilizer on young, tender plants. You don’t want to burn the roots off of your baby plants!
Composting pig manure also cuts down on the odor that the manure can have. This is especially true if you cover your compost pile.
Stockpiling manure is another option for those who keep their pigs indoors or on concrete.
Large commercial pig farms stockpile manure in large holding tanks or lagoons. They use bacteria to break down the manure into solids and liquids and then sell those as fuel sources or fertilizers.
You can do the same thing on your farm. If you want to stockpile manure, make sure that you have an end purpose planned for it.
You can compost the stockpile and sell it as soil additive to your local greenhouse or nursery. You can sell it off of your farm as fertilizer and sell to your local farmers.
In order to stockpile manure, you need to pick a location on your farm to store it. Choose an area of your farm that is the farthest away from dwellings. Also, consider the weather when choosing a stockpiling location.
Do you get most of your winds and storms from the south and east? If so, make sure that you aren’t putting your manure stockpile up wind of your home or someone else’s home.
You can stockpile manure in the open just in a large pile. If you want to cut the odor down, then you’ll want to enclose the stockpile and put a roof over it. This will trap the smell in one area.
You can also plant thick shrubby trees such as these fast growing Hybrid Aussie Willows around the stockpile to help exchange gases and trap the smell. For more tips on managing pig odor, read National Hog Farmer’s 10 Steps to Manage Odor.
This option goes hand in hand with stockpiling manure. If you plan on removing manure, you’ll need a place to stockpile it until you can move it or have it moved.
There are companies that will come remove large amounts of manure for you if it is stockpiled. However, I would highly recommend that if you are going to stockpile it that you try to make some money by selling it as a fertilizer rather than pay for someone to come remove it for you.
New methods of using pig manure
Pork, often dubbed “the other white meat” creates a large amount of manure. This manure can be used as fertilizer or a soil additive. That’s been known for hundreds of years. However, scientists are working hard to try to find more solutions to how pig manure can be used (other than fertilizer).
In 2006, the Nitrates Action Plan was passed. This law increased research opportunities that looked at pig manure and how it can be used other than for just fertilizer. Scientists have since learned that composting the manure and using parts of it as a biofuel can be profitable.
For more information about how pig manure can be used as biofuel, The Pig Site has an article about alternative uses for pig manure that is worthwhile.
The links below have been extremely useful to me in learning about how I can better manage our pig’s manure overload. You can also speak to your local agricultural extension agents about methods that they recommend.
Oregon State University
There are some downloadable free PDFs on this site that have useful information. My favorite was “Composting: An Alternative for Livestock and Manure Management and Disposal of Dead Animals”.
This downloadable PDF is another great resource to have on hand if you have pigs or are planning on having pigs in the future.
Iowa State University Extension
This information is a great resource that discusses all types of manure (pig, horse, goat, etc.) and how to manage the manure in a smaller farm on smaller acreage.
Final Thoughts on Pig Manure Management
If you have pigs or are planning on having pigs, then one of the best pieces of advice that I can give you is to have a plan. That plan could mean spreading manure on a pasture or composting manure. It could also mean stockpiling manure and selling it.
You can get creative with how you handle your pig manure. If you want to use excess manure to fill low spots in your pastures, then do it!
If you want to dig a small lagoon and try to create a biofuel, then do it! (Honestly, there are probably grants available if you want to make biofuel out of manure.
If you want to get ambitious and make money from your manure, contact your local extension office and talk to some experts about options that you have.)
The main thing is to have a plan. Don’t simply let your pig manure leach into the ground where it can get into the ground soil and water that you and everyone around you uses.
What do you do with your pig manure? How do you use it or get rid of it? Let me know below!
You may also be interested in these posts:
- Pig Pregnancy Questions Answered
- How to Choose a Boar
- Common Pig Diseases
- Beginner’s Guide to Raising Pigs
- Meat Pig Breeds
- Raising Pigs on Concrete
- Artificial Insemination of Pigs