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Composting Hog Manure - Is it Right for Your Farm?

by 5m Editor
13 June 2003, at 12:00am

By Katherine E. Buckley, published by Alberta Pork in their Spring 2003 Western Hog Journal. Composting hog manure has not been considered a viable alternative manure management practice until recent years and even now the practice is thought to be more labour intensive and more expensive than conventional liquid manure handling practices.

Composting Hog Manure - Is it Right for Your Farm? - By Katherine E. Buckley, published by Alberta Pork in their Spring 2003 Western Hog Journal. Composting hog manure has not been considered a viable alternative manure management practice until recent years and even now the practice is thought to be more labour intensive and more expensive than conventional liquid manure handling practices. While it is true that composting is not a great fit with conventional rearing systems, it can have a place in hog production. Where dry sows and grower/finisher hogs are housed in facilities with straw or shavings as bedding or absorbent, composting is a natural solution to manure handling problems.

There are new challenges in manure handling that may be more easily managed by on-farm composting of animal manure. In the last decade, the non-farm population has increased in the rural areas. That has brought them into closer contact with farming activities and they are sometimes shocked at the scale and the odours associated with some modern livestock operations. This has led to lawsuits and protests taken to local governments seeking redress or restriction of farming activities.

While Manitoba does have a law that protects farmers from ìnuisanceî lawsuits if they are following good management practices, most farmers would undoubtedly prefer a less confrontational relationship with their neighbors. While not completely odour-free, composting does not generate the same kind of manure odours typical of manure collected and stored in pits or earthen storages under anaerobic conditions.

Although liquid manure handlingsystems can be managed in ways that satisfy the rules against liquid manure runoff, they are inherently riskier systems, and many farmers will undoubtedly want to avoid those risks. Composting fits easily into manure handling systems that generate manure with low levels of added water.

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(Western Hog Journal Spring 2003)