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Hog Production Alternatives

  1. 1. HOG PRODUCTION ALTERNATIVES LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION GUIDE National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service www.attra.ncat.org Abstract: This publication addresses the two different directions in which hog production is currently moving: 1) contracting with large-scale vertical integrators (producers/packers/processors linked from farrowing to packing to the retail counter), and 2) sustainable production of a smaller number of hogs sold through alternative markets. The aspects of sustainable hog production discussed in this publication include alternative niche marketing, breed selection, alternative feeds, waste management, odor control, health concerns, and humane treatment. Basic production practices are not covered in this publication, but they are readily available in many books and through state Cooperative Extension Services.By Lance Gegner photo by Diane Halverson/AWINCAT AgricultureSpecialistNovember 2004© NCAT 2004 ContentsIntroduction .........................1Understanding Pricing,Concentration, andVertical Integration .............2Sustainable Systems:The Other Option ................4 Budgeting ........................5 Alternative Niche Marketing .........................5 Breed Selection Criteria ..............................6 Introduction Alternative Feeds ............7 Today’s independent hog producers have to choose between production Waste Management ....11 systems that lead in different directions. One is toward confinement Odor Control..................14 feeding of hogs and contracting with vertical integrators, where the Health Concerns ...........16 motto is “get big or get out.” The other direction is toward more sus- Humane Treatment.......18 tainable production of a smaller number of hogs and marketing them,Summary ............................18 through various methods, as part of a whole-farm operation.Enclosures...........................19References .........................19 Kelly Klober, author of Storey’s Guide to Raising Pigs and himself a farmerFurther Resources ..............21 and value-added marketer, notes the large difference between the twoAppendix ...........................26 types of production. Scaled-down agribiz will not work on the small farm. When returns are figured in pennies per unit of production, whether that production is in pounds or bushels, they will not produce a sustainable and becomingATTRA is the national sustainable agriculture information service operated by the National Center for AppropriateTechnology, through a grant from the Rural Business-Cooperative Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.These organizations do not recommend or endorse products, companies, or individuals. NCAT has offices inFayetteville, Arkansas (P.O. Box 3657, Fayetteville, AR 72702), Butte, Montana, and Davis, California.
  2. 2. Related ATTRA Publications Understanding Pricing, • Pork: Marketing Alternatives Concentration, and Vertical • Considerations in Organic Hog Produc- Integration tion • Hooped Shelters for Hogs Some large, independent hog operations, seeing • An Organic & Sustainable Practices the wide price fluctuations for finished hogs in Workbook and Resource Guide for the past few years, have started to move into Livestock Systems contracting. As Jane Feagans, of Oasis Farms in • Profitable Pork: Strategies for Hog Oakford, Illinois, says, “Our strategy right now Producers (SAN Publication) is to survive. I don’t see the pork business as a • Holistic Management—A Whole-Farm particularly good business to be in right now…. Decision Making Framework We went into the contract arrangements as a • Manures for Organic Crop Production risk-management tool. But it’s like insurance. • Nutrient Cycling in Pastures Risk management comes at a cost, because it • Protecting Water Quality on Organic limits the upside of the market.”(Hillyer and Phil- Farms lips, 2002) Producers who want to raise a large • Protecting Riparian Areas: Farmland number of hogs will most likely need to contract Management Strategies with someone. As Chris Hart, Purdue University • Sustainable Soil Management Extension marketing specialist explains, “The financial risks of not being aligned in some way return to the small producer. The small farmer in the pork marketing chain are just too extreme. will have to work from within those perimeter Many of these independents are saying enough fences, creating a farming mix geared not on is enough.”(Hillyer and Phillips, 2002) volume, but premium product production. To succeed with growing less, one must have to sell However, before producers decide to sign a con- it for more, and that means direct marketing, ex- tract to produce hogs for a vertical integrator, it otic production, value added marketing, or just is best to understand all aspects of the contract. about anything but the wholesale marketing of Farmers’ Legal Action Group, Inc. (FLAG), locat- farm commodities by the truckload or pen-full ed in Minnesota (Further Resources: Web sites), (Klober, 2003). has several publications and articles on livestock production contracts. Some key questions toKlober stresses that producers should not identify be addressed in contracts are listed in FLAG’sthemselves as hog finishers or grain specialists, publication Livestock Production Contracts: Risksbut should view their farm enterprises as being for Family Farmers:“like fine watches; the good ones are small, wellput together, and everything works together in • How is the grower’s compensationa precise fashion.” He goes on to say: calculated? With careful planning, even the smallest farm • What are the grower’s expenses under can support a number of diverse enterprises. As the contract? long as they do not directly compete for such • Who has management control under the limited small farm assets as space, available labor, facilities, or capital, any number of ventures can contract? be fitted together to form a distinct small farm. • Does the grower carry the responsibility If they are keeping with the producer’s skill and for compliance with environmental and desires, and good local market outlets exist for other regulations? their outputs, any number of enterprises can be considered for the small farm mix. The answer to • Can the Integrator require the Grower what is a good enterprise mix is as varied as the to replace equipment in barns? descriptions of individual snowflakes. They can • What happens if the production con- be stacked on the small farm to create a structured tract is terminated by the Integrator? cash flow and to fully utilize the labor available (Moeller, 2003) (Klober, 2003).PAGE 2 //HOG PRODUCTION ALTERNATIVES
  3. 3. In addition, many state departments of agricul- This shrinking of the open market is a problemture and Cooperative Extension Services have for hog farmers. While some small cooperativespublications available to help producers better and processors, as well as small-scale direct hogunderstand contracts. It is very important for all marketers, are technically vertical integrators,parties to READ AND UNDERSTAND EVERY- they lack the concentration of power to affectTHING BEFORE THEY SIGN. the market. According to Fred Kirschenmann, director of the Leopold Center for SustainableWith vertical integration, the mainstream pork Agriculture in Ames, Iowa, the mid-size farms areindustry has consolidated in a way that many finding it more difficult to find competitive mar-people consider unsustainable. The number kets for their hogs. The mid-size farms are “tooof hog producers is rapidly decreasing every big to sell directly to consumers and too smallyear. Between 1971 and 1992, the number of hog to interest corporate food producers, who oftenfarms fell from 869,000 to 256,390 (Smith, 1998b), prefer dealing with a few large farms rather thanand between 1997 and 2002 the number of hog with dozens of smaller farms.”(Martin, 2004)farms continued decreasing by about 39%, from125,000 to just over 79,000.(Martin, 2004) While What this reduced open-market pricing reallythe number of hog producers is decreasing, the means is that 11.6% of hogs—those sold on thelarge operations are expanding or increasing in open market—establish the price for many ofactual numbers. In 2000, hog producers market- the vertically-integrated hogs as well, becauseing fewer than 1000 hogs per year—68.2% of hog integrators tie their prices to the open marketproducers—marketed only 1.8% of all hogs pro- price. However, in the written testimony of theduced, while hog producers marketing more than Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) to50,000 head per year—two-tenths of one percent the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Anti-(.002) of hog producers—marketed 51.3% of hogs trust, Competitive Policy, and Consumer Rights,produced.(Lawrence and Grimes, 2000) Micheal Stumo, OCM General Council, states:Large-scale vertical integration (producer/pack- The hog industry is approximately 87% vertical ater/processors linked from farrowing to packing the producer/packer interface. Vertical integra-to the retail counter) has put pork production tion takes the form of packer owned hogs, andin the same predicament as poultry production. various types of contracted hogs. Ninety percent of the hog contracts pay the producer through aVertical integrators are direct-contracting more formula price based upon the open market pricehogs today than in the past. According to a Na- reported each day by the USDA’s Market Newstional Pork Board Analysis of USDA price data, Service. All the pork packers have been aggres-35.8% of all hogs were sold on the open market sively going vertical and have stated as much.(negotiated price) in 1999, but that number fell to11.6% in January 2004.(Anon., 2004a) In theory, the 13% of the non-vertical hogs set the price for the open market price reports. In prac- tice, three to five percent of the hogs traded set theA large animal confinement operation in Wisconsin. price. These are the hogs actually negotiated be-Photo by Bob Nichols, USDA NRCS tween packers and producers in the Iowa-South- ern Minnesota market, the price setting market. The other non-vertical hogs either are committed to a packer through an oral formula arrangement, or are merely forced to take the “Posted Price” that the packer says it will pay based on the Iowa- Southern Minnesota market.… Packers always have an incentive to push hog prices down to save money. But when 90% of the contract hogs are pegged to the open market, the marginal cost of bidding for open market hogs is tremendously magnified…. In today’s concen- trated packer environment, we have dominant firms interacting in a very thin market. This sce- nario exponentially increases their ability to drive prices lower as compared to a situation where //HOG PRODUCTION ALTERNATIVES PAGE 3
  4. 4. the dominant firm bought all their hogs from a University of Missouri rural sociologist Wil- high-volume open market. It is no surprise that liam Heffernan has found that the profits from the past 20 years have seen a steady downward an independent producer have a multiplier ef- trend in hog prices as packers consolidated hori- fect of three to four in a local community, but zontally and vertically even while the wholesale profits from a corporate or private company– meat prices justify far more for live hogs (Stumo, 2003). owned farm leave the local community almost immediately.(DiGiacomo, 1995) Another studyThe Missouri Rural Crisis Center in Columbia, in Minnesota found that for livestock-intensiveMissouri, has found that since 1994 more than operations, the percentage spent locally (within70% of Missouri hog farmers (7,400 out of 10,500) 20 miles of the farm) declined dramatically withhave left hog production. The Center adds that the growth of the operation. So, rural communi-the Missouri hog farmer’s share of the pork retail ties and even states need to consider what is moredollar has gone from 46¢ in 1986 to 30¢ in 2003, important to them—having a large number ofwhile the consumer prices of pork have increased hogs produced or having a large number of hogmore than 40%.(Oates and Perry, 2003) producers.(Thompson, 1997) Hog Prices Received by Sustainable Systems: Missouri Farmers The Other Option (average annual prices per hundredweight) 1985-1987 $49.34 There are many things to consider in sustainable hog production and marketing. This publication 1988-1990 $48.03 focuses on only some of these issues. Basic hog 1991-1993 $46.63 production information—housing, breeding, 1994-1996 $46.27 farrowing, care of baby pigs, weaning, etc.—is 1997-1999 $41.04 not covered in this publication, but it is avail- 2000-2002 $37.60 able from state Extension Service offices and in books available at libraries, bookstores, and** If you adjust hog prices for inflation, on-line stores (see Further Resources: Books).independent pork producers are getting Other aspects of sustainable production are dis-paid about 51% less in real dollars for their cussed in the ATTRA publications mentionedhogs than what they received in 1985. throughout this publication and in the FurtherMissouri Hog Prices (Oates and Perry, 2003) Resources section. The main issues addressed in this publication are:The economic analyses of farm records by various • Niche marketingstate universities show that the size of the hogoperation is not as important to making a profit • Breed selectionas how well the hog operation is managed.(Ikerd, • Alternative feeds, including forages and2001) In a presentation to the Biodynamic Farm- alternative energy and protein sourcesing Conference, Fred Kirschenmann of the Leop- • Waste managementold Center stated, “Studies in Iowa have shownthat the most efficiencies are gained on farms • Odor controlthat market 800 to 1000 pigs annually.”(Maulsby, • Health concerns for hogs and producers2003a) • Humane treatmentBut vertical integrators do not want independent In the past, hogs were a dependable source of cashproducers; they want producers tied to them income for diversified family farms, sometimeswith contracts that offer the producers minimal called the “mortgage lifter,” and contemporaryrewards for their labor. Vertical integrators have sustainable hog production should be an integraltheir own operations in every phase of pork pro- part of the whole farm. Whole-farm planning orduction. From the farrowing-to-finishing factory holistic management is a decision-making man-farm to the packinghouse to the fresh and frozen agement system that can assist in establishing ameat cases, vertical integrators need no help from long-term goal, help to create a detailed financialanyone. plan, a biological plan for the landscape, and aPAGE 4 //HOG PRODUCTION ALTERNATIVES
  5. 5. monitoring program to assess progress toward Colin Wilson explains:the planned goal. For additional information “We like working with livestock, and didn’t wantabout holistic management, see ATTRA’s Holis- to get into a high-volume, low margin businesstic Management—A Whole-Farm Decision Making that turns animals into production units. OurFramework. system provides a nicer environment for the hogs than a confinement barn, where pigs justOn a diverse, integrated farm, livestock recycle eat, drink, sleep, and get bored. We’ve learned tonutrients in manure that is used to grow the live- work with our animals rather than conform themstock feed, forages, legumes, and food crops typi- to our system…. We are trying to run an operationcal of healthy, diversified cropping systems, and that is good for people and for livestock. We wanthogs will readily eat weather-damaged crops, to create a farming operation that can be passedcrop residues, alternative grains, and forages. on to the next generation” (Maulsby, 2003b).Dan and Colin Wilson, brothers farming nearPaullina, Iowa, raise hogs in hoop houses, in a Alternative Niche Marketinggreenhouse used for winter farrowing, and on As mentioned earlier in Understanding Pricing,pasture. They decided that confinement pens Concentration, and Vertical Integration, one rea-didn’t fit their philosophy of animal welfare. son small and mid-size hog farmers are consider- ing niche marketing is the lack of open markets and the concentration of hogs under contract. Budgeting Alternative marketing is not an easy task, but Budgets help evaluate the probable costs and farmers are being left with fewer options. income of an enterprise. To do this, how- ever, budgets need to include all projected Speaking at a “Pig Power” meeting in Minnesota, costs and receipts, even if they are difficult Mark Honeyman, Iowa State University animal to estimate. Sample budgets can help you scientist, commented that hog farmers are finding better understand what needs to be included niche markets opening up for them. in your budget, but yours will be unique for As the market gets dominated by huge operations, your operation, because the costs and receipts it creates more niche markets on the back side. I are different for every farm enterprise. Costs call it the Wal-Mart effect.… Of course, if the niche can also change, sometimes quickly, as can gets big enough, then the big guys grab it. But market opportunities, making the final bud- one thing the big guys can’t replicate is the story get quite different from what was planned. that goes with the food. People want to know Many state Extension Services have budget what they’re eating. They want to know where it comes from. Farmers like you can provide that information available for various enterprises. story (Anon., 2003a). Several sample budgets are available in the Pennsylvania State University publications Chuck Talbott, Adjunct Assistant Professor at Swine Production and Enterprise Budget Analy- North Carolina A&T State University, discussing sis at his small-scale hog producers project states: http://agalternatives.aers.psu.edu/live- Small producers cannot and should not compete stock/swine/swine.pdf on the same level with corporate farms, but they may be able to produce a unique product that and appeals to an upscale market. Therefore, empha- sis should be placed on marketing the potential http://agalternatives.aers.psu.edu/farm- strengths and distinguishing features of the small management/enterprise/enterprise_bud- farmer’s product, such as taste differences due get_analysis.pdf. to diet and genetics, antibiotic-free status, and free-range, environmental, and animal welfare The Iowa State University publication Cost of issues…Many people refer to pasture-raised pigs Organic Pork Production also provides infor- as “old timey” farming. I would rather call it mation that should be helpful in designing profitable farming, especially if we can produce your budgets. It is available at www.ipic. a unique product that stands out from the other iastate.edu/reports/01swinereports/asl- nine million exceptionally lean hogs marketed 1784B.pdf. annually in North Carolina (Talbott, 2003). //HOG PRODUCTION ALTERNATIVES PAGE 5
  6. 6. The 2001 report “Alternative Production Systems: Photo by Diane Halverson/AWIInfluence on Pig Growth Pork Quality,” from thePork Industry Institute at Texas Tech University,summarizes a study on consumer preferences forpork from conventional and alternative produc-tion systems: A majority of consumers say they are willing to pay more for products that are produced as “sustainable,” “natural” or with other assurances without mentioning any improvement in pork eating quality. We were surprised at first to see that consumers now put a value on some social features of the production system quite apart from the pork’s appearance or sensory qualities. Pasture-raised hogs require traits such as hardiness in A niche market is available for pork produced extreme climates, parasite resistance, foraging ability, with certain socially-acceptable assurances even and good mothering attributes. if no real difference in pork sensory qualities can be consistently demonstrated through objective include the Berkshire, Chester White, Spotted, research (Gentry et al., 2001). Tamworth, Poland China, Large Black, Hereford,For information on direct marketing, coopera- and Gloucester Old Spot Pig. For informationtives, and niche markets, as well as legal consid- about breeding stock availability of these mi-erations, labels, trademarks, processing regula- nor and heritage breeds, contact the Americantions, and obstacles, see ATTRA’s Pork: Marketing Livestock Breeds Conservancy at 919–542–5704,Alternatives. www.albc-usa.org/; or the New England Heri- tage Breeds Conservancy at 413–443–836, www. Breed Selection Criteria nehbc.org/. General descriptions of the many hog breeds can be found at www.ansi.okstate.Selection of breeding stock for a sustainable hog edu/breeds/swine.operation is very important. All breeds of pigshave certain traits that can be advantageous In the enclosed “The pastured pig” articles fromto sustainable hog production. So before pur- Graze, Jim Van Der Pol talks about his ideas ofchasing breeding stock, try to find a seedstock what makes a perfect pasture sow. He discussesproducer raising pigs in conditions similar to the selection for genetic traits in gilts and boars,those in your operation. Research at Texas A&M various culling requirements for his sows andindicates that range-ability in sows (the ability to replacement gilts, and changing the sows’ behav-nest and farrow on their own) is a highly heritable ior through genetics. The articles also describetrait and could be genetically selected for pasture his pasture gestation and farrowing operations.operations.(Nation, 1988b) (Enclosures are not available on-line but are avail- able by contacting ATTRA.)The most common breeds of pigs in the UnitedStates are Yorkshire, Landrace, Hampshire, and Producers also need to consider what breeds theirDuroc. These breeds have been bred for char- markets prefer. Organic Valley, the brand nameacteristics that make them adaptable to confine- of CROPP (Coulee Region Organic Produce Pool)ment operations and the particular stresses and Cooperative at LaFarge, Wisconsin, says that theymanagement conditions found in these systems. have identified a market for a Berkshire cross-Pasture-raised hogs face different stresses and bred with a Chester White sow. So CROPP onlyrequire different traits, such as hardiness in accepts Berkshire-sired certified organic hogsextreme climates, parasite resistance, foraging from Chester White sows for their products. Forability, and good mothering attributes—char- information about the Organic Valley pork pro-acteristics not developed for confinement hog gram, contact Allen Moody, Feed and Pork Poolproduction.(Kelsey, 2003) Coordinator, at 888–444–6455, extension 240; or 608–625–2602; or e-mail allenm@organicvalley.Some traditional and heritage swine breeds com.still retain these characteristics. These breedsPAGE 6 //HOG PRODUCTION ALTERNATIVES
  7. 7. Niman Ranch Pork Company, the nation’s lead- Despite being single-stomached animals thating marketer of natural pork, doesn’t specify often need some grain, hogs are wonderful pas-what type of hog their producers need to raise. ture animals. Digestively, they are durable andNiman wants producers to follow the Animal flexible. They do not bloat, founder on grain, or ingest hardware. They eat weeds readily, evenWelfare Institute’s Humane On-Farm Husbandry prefer them. If conditions get tough for the swardCriteria for Pigs standards—available at www. [grass-covered ground], they can be removedawionline.org/farm/standards/pigs.htm—and and switched immediately to a grain ration withproduce hogs that are good tasting and have no worries about digestive upset (Van Der Pol,enough back fat to produce a marbled meat. Paul 2002).Willis, manager of Niman Ranch Pork Company,says, “We’re not interested in a super lean pig. A three-year study by Auburn University’s swineOur animals live outdoors, and they need that nutritionist Terry Prince proved that as much asbody fat to handle the heat in the summer and the two-thirds of a sow’s feed needs can be satisfiedcold in the winter.”(Anon., 2003b) Niman Ranch by a well-managed pasture program, if vitaminPork Company is working with farmers in the and mineral supplements are provided.(Anon.,Midwest and Southeast. For information about 1987)Niman Ranch Pork Company, call 641–998–2683 A 2003 paper presented at the Third Nationalor e-mail philk@frontiernet.net. Symposium on Alternative Feeds for Livestock and Poultry held at Kansas City, Missouri Alternative Feeds states:Conventional swine rations consist primarily ofcorn and soybean meal—corn for energy and Fibrous feeds traditionally have not been used for nonruminants due to their documented de-soybean meal for protein. However, diversified pression of diet digestibility in pigs and poultry.farmers may have other types of grains, crop However, some types of fiber and fiber sourcesresidues, and forages that lack a ready market or do not exert such negative effects on nutritionalare considered waste products. Pigs—being ver- digestibility in older growing pigs and sows. Di-satile omnivores—can eat a wide range of feeds, etary fiber can have a positive effect on gut health,such as pasture grasses and other fibrous mate- welfare, and reproductive performance of pigs.rials, as well as alternative energy and protein Hence, nutritionists are attempting to gain a moresources. The pig’s ability to digest fibrous ma- thorough understanding of dietary fiber in swineterials increases as it matures. Since they do not diets (Johnson et al., 2003).have rumens, pigs digest fiber primarily in theirlarge intestine through fermentation.(Johnson Pasture, Hogging Off, and Fibrous By-et al., 2003) Jim Van Der Pol—who grazes and productsdirect-markets pork, chicken, and beef in Min- Colin Wilson, who farms with his father andnesota—says in his “The pastured pig” series in brother Dan at Paullina, Iowa, has worked theGraze magazine: bugs out of their pasture-farrowing system by trial and error the past 20 years. Wilson stresses that timeliness is critical, and that many jobs require two or even three people. They use a three-year rotation in three adja- cent 18-acre fields. The rotation begins with corn, followed the next spring with a drilled mix of 3.5 bushels of oats, 10 pounds of al- falfa, and 3 pounds of orchardgrass. Oats are harvested, leaving a thick pasture cover for the hogs the following year. Colin explained that it took a long time to develop a success- ful pasture mix. He found that pastures with In pastures available to hogs, too little alfalfa were not as palatable to hogs, inspect for weeds that can be and that pastures with too much alfalfa did poisonous to them. Photo by Diane Halverson/AWI not produce a good orchardgrass stand and tended to be muddy in wet years. //HOG PRODUCTION ALTERNATIVES PAGE 7
  8. 8. Fencing the pasture is also important for theWilsons’ operation. As soon as possible in thespring, they string a two-wire (14-gauge) electricfence around the perimeter of the pasture; onewire is 4 to 8 inches high, and the other wire is18 to 24 inches high. Each wire has its own char-ger, so there is always a hot wire if one chargermalfunctions. This pasture is then divided into150 by 300 foot pens, also using double wires.Wilson says it is not a good idea to charge thegates. If the gate is charged, the hogs learn notto pass that point, and then the producer will notbe able to drive the hogs through the gate whenit is open.(Cramer, 1987)In addition to legumes and grass pastures, non-legume brassicas—turnips, rape, kale, fodder Corn and oats in northeast Iowa. Small grainsbeets, and mangels—are high in protein, highly such as oats can be used to reduce thedigestible, and make an excellent pig pasture. amount of corn in swine rations. Photo by Lynn Betts, USDA NRCSAnother option is the practice of having pigs self-harvest the grain, otherwise known as “hoggingoff” the crop. Some of the benefits of hogging 90% of a gestating sow’s rations, because of theoff are that harvesting costs are eliminated, crop sow’s lower energy needs and large digestiveresidues and manure are left on the land, and tract. Acceptable feeds include alfalfa hay (needparasite and disease problems may be reduced. to feed good quality hay; moldy alfalfa can causeMany different crops can be used with this prac- abortions), haylage (not more than 20% of a sow’stice, as long as there are also legumes or brassicas ration), alfalfa and orchardgrass hay, grass silage,available. Some examples of grains that can be sunflower and soybean hulls, corn-cob meal, andself-harvested by hogs are wheat, rye, oats, dent beet pulp. Honeyman says even growing—andcorn, Grohoma sorghum, Spanish peanuts, and finishing—pig rations can be 10 to 30% forages, ifpopcorn.(Nation, 1989) Such direct harvesting energy levels are maintained.(Cramer, 1990b)can sometimes turn a profit from even a low–yielding grain crop.(Nation, 1988a) Alternative Energy SourcesIn pastures available to hogs, inspect for weeds Small grains can be used to reduce the amountthat can be poisonous to them, including pig- of corn in swine rations. Wheat, triticale, barley,weed, Jimson weed, two–leaf cockleburs, young and hulless barley can totally replace corn, butlambsquarters, and nightshades. A couple of need to be more coarsely processed than cornWeb sites providing information and pictures of to reduce dust and flouring effects—continuousmany poisonous plants are www.vth.colostate. feeding of finely ground grains can cause ulcersedu/poisonous_plants/report/search.cfm and in pigs’ gastrointestinal tract. The differing nu-www.spokanecounty.org/weedboard/pdf/ tritional values of small grains means that the2004ToxicPlants.pdf. Your veterinarian or county ration will have to be formulated to meet theExtension agent should also be able to help with hogs’ energy and protein needs—especially forweed identification. The ATTRA publication the amino acids lysine, trytophan, threonine, andConsiderations in Organic Hog Production has ad- methionine, and the minerals calcium and phos-ditional information on using pastures for hog phorus. Light and/or weedy small grains thatproduction. would be discounted at the elevator can be fed to pigs with no difference in their performance.If pastures are not available, feeding feedstuffs Barley and hulless barley need to be stored afterhigh in fiber is another possibility. Honeyman harvest before feeding them to swine. In thenotes that studies show that fibrous feeds and publication Barley Production in Alberta: Harvest-protein by-products can make up as much as ing on the Alberta Agriculture, Food and RuralPAGE 8 //HOG PRODUCTION ALTERNATIVES
  9. 9. Development Web site, it states: Up to 5% flax can be added to hog rations to increase the omega-3 fatty acids in the pork and Newly harvested barley, whether dry, or high improve sow performance. In 1995, South Dakota moisture, should always be stored about four to six weeks before being fed to any class of livestock. State University researchers tested feeding flax This storage period is often called a sweat period. in a corn-soybean meal ration during the final Serious losses in cattle, pigs and poultry have been 25 days of finishing. The results showed that the attributed to feeding newly harvested grain. There omega-3 fatty acids had increased. However, a is some evidence that certain compounds in the consumer taste panel could detect differences in newly harvested grain may be toxic to livestock. the bacon in rations that contained more than In storage, such compounds undergo chemical 5% flax. University of Manitoba researchers changes that make them non-toxic. Processing replaced some of the soybean meal and tallow newly harvested barley for feed apparently does and added 5% flax to gestation and lactation sow not eliminate the problem of toxicity—a rest or rations. The study showed that the sows fed sweat period is necessary (Anon., 2002a). flax delivered more piglets at farrowing, that theThe following publications offer further informa- piglets had heavier weaning rates, and that thetion about feeding small grains to hogs. sows lost less weight during lactation and rebred sooner.(Murphy, 2003) • Feeding Wheat to Hogs Hulless or naked oats and high-fat oats are newer http://osuextra.okstate.edu/pdfs/F- varieties with improved nutritional characteris- 3504web.pdf tics that make them good alternative feeds. Hul- • Triticale Performs in Pig Feeds less oats can be used as the total energy source in swine rations; however, because of the limited www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/ cropping history and marketing opportunities, newslett.nsf/all/bb501?OpenDocument their yield potential and economic value are un- • Feeding Barley to Swine & Poultry known in many areas and first should be tested in small quantities. www.ext.nodak.edu/extpubs/ansci/ swine/eb73w.htm Several other alternative grains that can be used in hog rations are cull, unpopped popcorn andSome other small grains to consider are oats, buckwheat. Popcorn has nearly the same nu-rye, flax, hulless or naked oats, and high-fat oats. tritional value as yellow corn and can replaceAll of these small grains can be used in vary- corn on an equal weight basis. If you happen toing amounts in hog rations, according to their be in an area where cull popcorn is available, itunique characteristics and nutritional values. can sometimes be less costly than corn.(Anon.,Newer varieties of rye are less susceptible to 1990b)ergot contamination—a fungal infection that cancause abortions—than older varieties and can be Buckwheat can be used to replace about 25 to 50%used as up to 30% of the energy source.(Racz and of corn. Buckwheat has only 80% of the energyCampbell, 1996) value of corn but is higher in fiber and can be planted later in the season as a substitute cropOats’ feed value is only about 80% that of corn; in emergencies. Buckwheat should not be usedit has high fiber content and can be used as 20% for nursery rations or for lactating sows, becauseor more of the energy source. A 2002 study by of their higher energy requirements. BuckwheatMark Honeyman, Sebblin Sullivan, and Wayne should be limited to 25% replacement of corn forRoush at Iowa State University discusses changes white pigs housed outside. Buckwheat containsin performance of market hogs in deep-bedded a photosensitizing agent called fagopyrim thathooped barns with the addition of 20% and 40% causes rashes on pigs’ skin and intense itchingoats to the diet. The study didn’t find any reduc- when the pigs are exposed to sunlight. Thistion in daily gain, feed intake, feed efficiency, or condition is called fagopyrism or buckwheatother crucial factors for either level of oats in the poisoning.(Anon., 1993)ration. The study is available at www.extension.iastate.edu/ipic/reports/02swinereports/asl- A 2004 paper by Lee J. Johnson and Rebecca1819.pdf. Morrison at the Alternative Swine Program of //HOG PRODUCTION ALTERNATIVES PAGE 9
  10. 10. the West Central Research and Outreach Center of soybeans. Lupines should be supplementedin Morris, Minnesota, reported trying alterna- with iron at 400 parts/million (Anon., 1989) andtive ingredients—barley, oats, buckwheat, field methionine.(Golz and Aakre, 1993)peas, and expelled soybean meal— in the rationto help reduce the additional carcass fat in pigs Field peas are another option. The South Dakotaraised in hoop shelters rather than confinement State University publication Using South Dakotahouses. The study shows that feeding a low-en- Grown Field Peas in Swine Diets states:ergy diet based on small grains slows the growth Field peas are a good source of energy and aminorate and marginally improves carcass leanness in acids for swine. However, variety differences ex-hoop-sheltered hogs, but doesn’t affect the eat- ist, and producers must know the nutrient contenting quality of the pork. The study is available at of the peas they are working with to properlyhttp://wcroc.coafes.umn.edu/Swine/xp0246% formulate them into swine diets. Field peas are20final%20rpt%20no%20economics.pdf. a good source of lysine, but the concentrations of methionine, tryptophan, and threonine must be watched closely. While peas can containAlternative Protein Sources anti-nutritional factors, they are usually in suchSoybean meal can be replaced or reduced by the low concentration that field peas can be fed rawuse of alternative protein sources. Canola meal, (Thaler and Stein, 2003).sunflower meal, cottonseed meal, linseed meal,or peanut meal may be available locally, depend- The publication is available at http://agbiopubs.ing on your location. These alternative meals can sdstate.edu/articles/ExEx2041.pdf or by callingsubstitute for soybean meal, but they do have the Agriculture & Biological Science (ABS) Bul-different amino acid ratios and mineral levels letin Room at 605–688–5628 or 800–301–9293.that need to be taken into consideration when Mung beans can be used as an alternative to soy-balancing the rations. Cottonseed meal contains bean meal. Mung beans contain from 24 to 30%various levels of free gossypol—a compound crude protein, but about equivalent lysine levelsfound in cottonseed that is toxic to hogs. The 2003 as a percentage of protein. Mung beans containOklahoma Cooperative Extension publication a trypsin inhibitor just like raw soybeans. ThisGossypol Toxicity in Livestock, by Sandra Morgan, limits mung bean use in swine rations to aboutprovides specific information on gossypol toxic- 10% for growing pigs, 15% for finishing pigs,ity levels for swine and other livestock. You can and 10% for sow rations, unless the mung beansfind this publication at http://osuextra.okstate. are heat-treated like whole soybeans.(Luce andedu/pdfs/F-9116web.pdf . Maxwell, 1996)Roasting or extruding whole soybeans is another The Oklahoma State University Extension pub-option; the heat breaks down the trypsin inhibi- lication Using Mung Beans in Swine Diets is avail-tors found in raw soybeans. Processed, green, able by calling the University Mailing Services atfrost-damaged beans that would be discounted at 405–744–5385.the elevator can be used in the ration without anyproblems.(Jeaurond et al., 2003) The higher oil Distillers Dried Grains with Solubles (DDGS) is acontent of whole, processed soybeans produces co-product of the ethanol industry. During etha-a faster rate of gain than soybean meal. The nol production, a bushel of corn produces aboutcost of processing equipment and the fact that 2.6 gallons of ethanol and about 17 pounds of athe extruded and roasted products don’t store wet, spent mash that is processed and blendedwell are considerations that the producer has to into DDGS. Distillers Dried Grains with Solublestake into account. Additional information on can vary greatly in nutrient concentrations, withfeeding soybeans to hogs is available at www. crude protein ranging from about 23 to 29%, andgov.on.ca/OMAFRA/english/livestock/swine/ highly variable lysine levels. One major concernfacts/info_green_soybeans_pigs.htm. in using DDGS is mycotoxins from molds on the corn. Mycotoxins are not destroyed in the fer-Sweet white lupines can make up to about 10% menting process. In fact, they are concentratedof the ration for most finishing and gestating by threefold in the DDGS if there are molds onanimals. Lupines’ protein content can vary from the corn fermented into ethanol. The 2002 South25 to 38%, and they have about half the lysinePAGE 10 //HOG PRODUCTION ALTERNATIVES
  11. 11. Dakota State University Extension publication diets can compromise the growth of the pigs andUse of Distillers Dried Grains with Solubles (DDGS) may cause them to produce low-quality meatin Swine Diets, by Bob Thaler, provides specific with off-odors or flavors. Also, the producer mayinformation on using DDGS in swine rations. want to consider the marketing of garbage-fedYou can find the publication at http://agbio- hogs: if you are selling directly to consumers, thispubs.sdstate.edu/articles/ExEx2035.pdf or by may not be a practice to advertise.calling the ABS Bulletin Room at 605–688–5628or 800–301–9293. Many states do not allow any food wastes to be used to feed swine. Make sure that your stateBalancing Rations allows food-waste or swill feeding. Check with your state’s Health Department or DepartmentIt is important to remember that any changes to of Agriculture for restrictions and regulations. Ayour rations, including adding alternative feed- garbage feeder’s license is required in states thatstuffs, may change the growth rate of the hogs. do allow feeding food wastes.It is best to determine the feed-cost savings andany changes in market patterns before making If your state does allow swill feeding, rememberany changes to your feeding program. Always that according to the 1980 Swine Health Protec-assess any changes to your rations so that all the tion Act, all food waste containing any meatpigs’ nutritional requirements are being met at product has to be heat treated to reduce the riskevery stage of growth. Alternative feeds have of diseases and pathogens being passed to thevarying food values, so it is important to know pigs. Some of these diseases are hog cholera, footthe nutritional contents of each feed ingredient. and mouth disease, African swine fever, swineNutrient testing of alternative feed ingredients vesicular disease, Trichinella, and many otherwill eliminate any guess work. pathogens. The Act does not require cooking of non-meat products, such as bakery waste or fruitProducers can formulate their own rations or and vegetable wastes. The 2003 University ofcheck with a swine nutritionist to help formulate New Jersey—Rutgers Extension publication Feed-a balanced ration for different swine weights and ing Food Wastes to Swine, by Michael Westendorfgroups. Feedstuff Magazine Reference Yearly Issue and R. O. Meyer, provides specific informationcontains feeding values and analysis tables for on heat treating food wastes and other concernsmany by–products and unusual feeds (see Fur- in using food wastes in swine rations. You canther Resources: Magazines). The 1998 National find the publication at www.rce.rutgers.edu/Research Council’s (NRC) Nutrient Requirement of pubs/pdfs/fs016.pdf or by calling the Publica-Swine: 10th Revised Edition discusses the nutrient tions Distribution Center at 732–932–9762.needs of swine, including requirements of aminoacids and other nutrients (see Further Resources:Books). The University of Minnesota publication Waste ManagementDesigning Feeding Programs for Natural and Organic The goal of sustainable waste management is toPork Production provides nutritional comparisons enhance on-farm nutrient cycling and to protectand some rations using alternative feedstuffs (see the environment from pollutants. Hog manureFurther Resources: Publications). Please see the is an excellent soil builder—supplying organicAppendix for two tables showing energy andprotein composition of various feeds, suggestedinclusion rates, and factors affecting inclusion.Food WastesFood wastes are another alternative food forswine. Pigs are excellent scavengers of whatwe would consider garbage. Food wastes areoften available from restaurants, schools, grocerystores, and institutions, and include leftovers,bakery wastes, out-of-date food items, fruits, and This farm in Wisconsin uses nutrient management practices to apply manure from the hog operationvegetables. It is more difficult to balance the diet on cropland. Photo by Bob Nichols, USDA NRCSof hogs when feeding food wastes. Unbalanced //HOG PRODUCTION ALTERNATIVES PAGE 11
  12. 12. matter and nutrients and stimulating the biologi- Comprehensive Nutrient Managementcal processes in the soil to build fertility. When Plans (CNMPs)manure is used to its full potential, it can yield Increased public awareness of the threat to wa-substantial savings over purchased fertilizers and ter quality posed by hog manure has promptedlead to improved soil fertility through the benefits regulatory actions at local, state, and federalof increased soil organic matter. Using manure levels. Hog farmers must stay informed to avoidcan also cause problems, including human food violating these regulations—and to avoid pollut-contamination, soil fertility imbalances caused by ing the environment.excess nutrients, increased weed pressure, andpotential pollution of water and soil. The ATTRA In April 2003, the Environmental Protectionpublication Manures for Organic Crop Production Agency (EPA) National Pollutant Dischargehas information on organic manure handling Elimination System (NPDES) created a permitpractices to help prevent some of these problems. system governing animal feeding operationsATTRA’s Sustainable Soil Management discusses (AFOs). The permit system determines howconcepts and practices critical in soil nutrient AFOs can be defined as concentrated animalmanagement and in planning a farm’s individual feeding operations (CAFOs) and required to getfertility program. The ATTRA publication Nutri- a NPDES permit from the EPA or a designatedent Cycling in Pastures has additional information state permitting authority. AFOs are classifiedon good pasture management practices that foster CAFOs depending, in large part, on whether theeffective use and recycling of nutrients. operation is considered large, medium, or small. However, no matter what size your AFO, it canHogs, like most livestock, are not very efficient be designated a CAFO. Your operation couldat converting feedstuffs into meat. About 75 to need a CAFO permit if your permitting authority90% of the feedstuffs’ nutrients are excreted with finds that it is adding pollutants to the surfacethe manure.(Tishmack and Jones, 2003) Swine water. For a copy of the rule and additionalmanure has a high concentration of organic mate- supporting information, visit the EPA Web site atrial. It has a higher nitrogen content than beef or http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/afo/cafofinalrule.dairy manure, but less than poultry manure. The cfm, call the Office of Water Resource Centeramount of organic matter and nutrients in ma- at 202–566–1729, or call the CAFO help line atnure depends on the rations, the type of bedding, 202–564–0766.and whether the manure is applied as a solid,slurry, or liquid.(Tishmack and Jones, 2003) A CNMP must be tailored specifically to a site. The Natural Resources Conservation ServiceApplication rates should be based on crop needs (NRCS) has information to help set up this typeand soil tests (tests available through the Exten- of management plan. Contact your local countysion Service or a soil testing lab). Determine NRCS office for further information, or visit theirmanure application rates based on those nutri- Web site at www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/afoents that are present in the manure in the largest for help to in finding your local office, for theamounts. Basing application rates on manure 2003 series of 33 CAFO Fact Sheets, the CNMPnitrogen content alone should be done with care, manual, and additional information.since this can sometimes lead to soil nutrientimbalances if other macro- or micro–nutrients Manure Characteristics for Differentbecome excessive. Because the ratio of crop Types of Hog Production Systemsneeds to manure nutrient contents is lower forphosphorus than for nitrogen, many states are When raised on pasture, hogs distribute their ma-concerned about phosphorus buildup in soils and nure themselves. With proper rotations on stable,are requiring soil tests and manure management non-erodible lands—not wetlands, streams, wa-plans. On October 24, 2004, the Iowa Environ- terways, or riparian areas—the hazards of pollu-mental Protection Commission approved rules tion are small, and the potential for parasite andto prohibit applications of livestock manure on disease transfer is reduced. The pasture loadingfields that test very high in phosphorus.(Anon., rate varies greatly with climate, forage type, and2004b) rotation schedule. The vegetation in the pasture is the main indicator of the proper stocking rate. See ATTRA’s Protecting Riparian Areas: FarmlandPAGE 12 //HOG PRODUCTION ALTERNATIVES
  13. 13. HManagement Strategies for additional informationon riparian zone management and ATTRA’s ooped shelters, originallyConsiderations in Organic Hog Production for ad- developed in Canada, are among theditional information on pasture management for more promising and intriguing options forfarrowing and finishing. finishing hogs. Hooped shelters are so suc-Pasture hog production can have problems cessful that more than one million hogs arealso. Working outside in the cold, heat, rain, produced in them in Iowa. They are popu-snow, wind, and dark is not always pleasant. lar due to their low cost and because theyDave Odland, a farmer at Clarion, Iowa, says, allow the pigs to express social behavior.“With my system you have to be willing to get But pigs in hooped shelters require moreup at 3 a.m. to keep squealing pigs out of the feed per pound of gain, especially duringmud and rain. And, you have to be able to take extreme weather conditions.those days when you lose a litter or two because Hooped shelters are arched metal frames,of the weather.”(Anon., 1990a) Tim McGuire, secured to ground posts and four- to six-who farms at Wisner, Nebraska, comments that foot side walls, then covered with a poly-from November to March, they do not feed hogs ethylene tarp. The ends are left open mostoutside because it is too difficult to keep water, of the year for ventilation but are adjustedheaters, straw, and feed in place.(Gralla, 1991) appropriately in winter to circulate freshWhen using a Cargill-style finishing unit (an 18 air and reduce humidity. The hoopedby 120 foot, monoslope, open-front shed with an shelters come in various sizes but usuallyoutside concrete area for feeders and waterers) house from 75 to 250 head per shelter.or other open-lot operations, whether paved or Stock density in the shelter can range fromunpaved, manure is handled as a solid. The ma- less than 12 square feet per pig to about 16nure is scraped regularly from the lots to reduce square feet per pig. The smaller (12 squarebuildup, as well as to help control odor and fly foot) space occasionally leads to fightingpopulations. Scraped manure is either stockpiled among the hogs, so some organic producersfor field spreading later, spread immediately on reduce stock density to allow more spacethe field, or composted. Composting manure per hog.allows long-term storage, with reduced odor Two-thirds of the floor area inside theand pollution problems and the production of a hoop shelter is a deep-bedded area, withsuperior soil amendment. Raw manure contains the remainder of the floor area a concretehigh levels of pollutants and must be properly slab where the feeders and waterers aremanaged to prevent contamination of nearby located. Deep bedding is the key to thesurface or ground water. hooped shelter’s performance. The bed-Manure from deep-bedded hooped shelters is ding consists of 14 to 18 inches of materialsalso handled as a solid. All of the bedding is such as small-grain or soybean straw, baledremoved, usually with a front-end loader, fol- cornstalks, grass hay, ground corncobs, orlowing each group of hogs. The composition a combination of several organic materi- als. The bedding absorbs moisture, slowlyA Cargill-style finishing unit. composts, and helps keep the pigs dry and warm. The back third of the bedded area is generally dry and serves as the sleeping area, while the middle third is where the pigs dung. Please refer to ATTRA’s Hooped Shelters for Hogs for specific information on using hooped shelters for finishing and/or gestating hogs. Besides hooped shelters, several al- ternative methods for sustainable hog continued on page 14 //HOG PRODUCTION ALTERNATIVES PAGE 13
  14. 14. continued from page 13 varies greatly, because of high concentrations continued from page 13 of bedding in some areas of the hooped shelter production have been researched, such and high concentrations of manure in others. as the Swedish deep-bedded nursery The variability of the manure creates problems system and pasture farrowing, as well as in accurately figuring the nutrient content of the other alternative farrowing and finishing manure and its fertilizer value. For more infor- systems. Among the limiting factors in mation on deep-bedded hooped shelters, see producing hogs outdoors are the climate, ATTRA’s Hooped Shelters for Hogs. the amount of land available, topography of the land, ground cover, and pollution po- Liquid manure systems are generally used in tentials. Some major differences between confinement hog production, including CAFO’s, alternative finishing systems and conven- because they require less labor than handling tional slatted floor finishing are the use of solids (as in bedding and scrape systems). Liquid deep bedding, the manure management manure is stored in underground pits, anaerobic practices, use of natural ventilation, the lagoons, or outdoor slurry storage tanks, above number of hogs in a group, and the lower or below ground. During storage and mixing or initial investment.(Gentry et al., 2001) See agitation, high concentrations of ammonia and ATTRA’s Considerations in Organic Hog hydrogen sulfide can be released, endangering Production for additional information about the farm workers and livestock.(Tishmack and these alternative methods. Jones, 2003) In a study completed in November 2002, the Prairie Swine Centre in Saskatchewan, In a 2001 annual report from Dickinson Canada, showed that hydrogen sulfite gas emis- Research Extension Center in North Da- sion in swine barns with shallow manure pits kota, researchers reported on the study often reached levels that pose a threat to workers’ “An Economic Analysis of Swine Rearing health.(Whelan, 2003) Systems for North Dakota,” comparing hogs raised in outdoor pens, hoop shelters, Manure or compost can be spread on pastures and conventional confinement buildings. or crop lands before or after harvest. If pos- Pig performance and carcass data were sible, manure should always be incorporated analyzed to estimate the net return per pig into the soil as soon as possible after spreading from the three systems. The evaluations to avoid losses of nitrogen and reduce odor. To considered turns/year, facility investment, prevent runoff, avoid spreading manure on fro- fixed costs, operating costs, and total car- zen ground. Manure spreaders, liquid manure cass values after premiums and discounts application tanks, and drag-hose application were applied. The net return per pig was equipment should be properly calibrated. Your calculated by deducting the total cost of the county Extension or NRCS office has information pig from the total carcass value. The report on these operations. concluded, “Accounting for all business Regardless of whether manure is handled as a parameters, rearing in the hoop structures solid, slurry, or liquid, a well-designed collec- returned the greatest net return per pig. tion, storage, transportation, and application Compared to the conventional confinement program is necessary to avoid water pollution. system, the hooped structures and outdoor See ATTRA’s Protecting Water Quality on Organic pen reared pigs returned 6.63% and 4.07% Farms for practices that can help protect water more net income, respectively.”(Landblom quality. et al., 2000) Odor Control photo by Keith Weller, USDA ARS According to R. Douglas Hurt, director of the Center for Agriculture History & Rural Studies at Iowa State University, “Hog odor is the most divisive issue ever in agriculture, damaging the fabric of rural society and disenfranchising pork producers from their communities, even on the roads in front of their farm.”(Smith, 1998a)PAGE 14 //HOG PRODUCTION ALTERNATIVES
  15. 15. by the wind, so the problem areas and odor intensity can change frequently, depending on wind direction and speed. Some of the gases are heavier and travel slower, close to the ground, while lighter gases disperse faster into the atmosphere.(Anon., 2002b) Odors are considered a nuisance only when their intensity and character are suf- ficiently objectionable to get complaints from neighbors. One legal basis for the nuisance concept is that people should not use their property in such a way that it would interfere with the adjoining property owners use of their property. Odors fromLiquid manure from a hog operation in northeast Iowa is hog production systems are regarded aspumped onto cropland. Photo by Tim McCabe, USDA NRCS nuisance pollutants not regulated under the Clean Air Act. How odor affects peopleMost complaints about hog operations involve varies. In an article from Inside Agroforestry,odor. Many hog farmers are finding their odor the author states:control efforts are not meeting their neighbors’expectations. Because livestock operations are People respond to odor differently. Althoughincreasing in size, and more people are moving the human olfactory organ is quite sensitive, theinto rural areas closer to livestock operations, response to odor is related more to past memories or cultural experiences. There is not very muchproblems are increasing.(Anon., 2002b) One of information about the impact of odor to humanthe reasons odor causes negative reactions dif- health. Most of the existing information refers toferently from person to person is that there is the adverse health effects of individual gases, e.g.no consensus agreement between farmers and ammonia, or dust, but no specific informationneighbors— or between any part of industry and about odors. One study did show that odors fromthe public—on how to evaluate odors. The total a swine facility had a negative effect on the moodsamount of odor coming from a farm depends on of the neighbors such as anger and frustration.the type and number of animals, the type of hous- These psychological impacts can be as significanting, the manure storage and handling practices, as a person’s physical health (Anon., 2002b).the wind direction and speed, and many other Even if these odors are non-toxic, they do affectweather variables.(Jacobson et al., 2002) how people feel and react. Farmers must be cur-Odors are from gases created by the decompo- rent on county zoning laws, Right–to–Farm laws,sition of the manure and other organic matter. and other local and state laws affecting land use.The gases can include from 80 to 200 different Many neighbors will be tolerant of occasionalcompounds that cause odor, some of them at odor problems, but if odor persists or is fairlyextremely low concentrations. The interaction be- frequent, trouble will arise.tween the different odor-causing compounds can One management practice that helps is the useproduce either more or less odor than that of an of shelterbelts. According to an article in Insideindividual compound. Odors are also absorbed Agroforestry, shelterbelts can help relieve live-and moved by dust particles.(Anon., 2002b) Dust stock odors in several ways.from hog operations can come from the feed, bed-ding material, manure, and even the hog itself. • Facilitate distribution of odor by creat-Some of the factors that can affect dust and odor ing surface turbulence that interceptslevels are animal activity, temperature, relative and disrupts odor plumes.humidity, wind, stocking density, feeding meth- • Encourage dust to settle by reducingods, and the feed ingredients themselves. wind speeds.Predicting odor and dust problems can be • Physically intercept dust and otherdifficult because the odors and dust are moved //HOG PRODUCTION ALTERNATIVES PAGE 15
  16. 16. aerosols that collect on leaves and re- duce the micro-particles leaving. USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) animal behaviorists study pig behavior with the • Act as a sink for chemical constituents goal of improving animal handling practices to of odor, because Volatile Organic Com- reduce stress on animals and lower production pounds (VOCs) have an affinity for the costs. Photo by Scott Baur, USDA ARS outer layers of plant leaves, where they are absorbed and broken down. • Provide a visual and aesthetic screen for the operation. (Colletti and Tyndall, 2002)The Forestry Department of Iowa State Univer-sity Web site has additional information on wind-break research and odor mitigation available atwww.forestry.iastate.edu/res/Shelterbelt.html.The University of Minnesota publication OFF-SET—Odor From Feedlots Setback Estimation Tool(Further Resources: Publications and Books) isdesigned to help estimate average odor impactsfrom different animal facilities and manure stor-age. The publication is based on odor measure-ment for farms and climate conditions in Minne-sota, and estimating odor impacts in other parts is important in increasing the pigs’ resistance toof the country should be done with caution and diseases. Stress is caused by:in consultation with the authors. OFFSET created • Taxing living conditions, such as heat,what they call odor emission numbers, which are cold, wet or muddy environment, orthe average of 200 odor measurements from 79 poor air quality (dust, ammonia, anddifferent Minnesota farms and are average values other gases)of measurements from each type of odor source.The odor emission number varies: 34 to 50 for • Not allowing natural behavior, such asswine housed with deep manure pits, 20 to 42 nesting, rooting, wallowing, or foragingfor pull-plug systems, 11 for loose housing and • Improper handling during weaning,open concrete scrape areas, and 4 for deep-bed- moving, or sorting, and mixing strangeded hoop and Cargill open-front barns.(Jacobson pigs togetheret al., 2002) • Poor nutrition—low energy and proteinA farmer cannot create an odor-free or dust-free levels, vitamin and mineral deficiencieshog operation, but certain types of buildings and Vaccinations are another important tool formanure management strategies can help. Com- disease prevention and helping to build immu-mon sense, as well as talking to and listening to nity in the pig. However, because of varyingyour neighbors, is probably your best defense disease pressures, management styles, housingagainst odor and/or dust complaints. If possible, conditions, farm locations, climatic conditions,manure should not be spread on Friday, Satur- etc., each producer’s situation is unique, andday, or Sunday, when neighbors are more likely any recommendations for routine vaccinationsto be at home and outdoors. Farmers should and health procedures need to be based on aconcentrate on sound management practices veterinarian’s suggestions.before trying any extreme measures. For additional information on how vaccinations Health Concerns provide immunity, as well as on reducing stress from hog handling practices and on allowingThe priority in sustainable swine production natural behaviors, see the ATTRA publicationshould be prevention and disease eradication, Considerations in Organic Hog Production.rather than disease treatment. Reducing stressPAGE 16 //HOG PRODUCTION ALTERNATIVES
  17. 17. Using antibiotics in hog production is becoming with a cocktail of antibiotics. Apart from that,more controversial, especially when they are our data provide first evidence for a new routeused as growth promoters and in subtherapeutic of entry for veterinary drugs in the environmentdoses. The 2004 report Antibiotic Resistance—Fed- (Hamscher, 2003).eral Agencies Need to Better Focus Efforts to Address Respiratory problems seem to be increasingRisk to Humans from Antibiotic Use in Animals, by for hog farmers using confinement hog houses.the Government Accounting Office (GAO), sug- The 220-page, 2003 University of Iowa reportgests that “scientific evidence has shown that Iowa Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation Aircertain bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics Quality Study found that at least 25% of swineare transferred from animals to humans through CAFO workers have reported current respiratorythe consumption or handling of meat that con- problems. The report is available at www.public-tains antibiotic-resistant bacteria.” The 100-page health.uiowa.edu/ehsrc/CAFOstudy.htm.GAO report is available at www.gao.gov/new.items/d04490.pdf. Additional information on Raising hogs in a deep-bedded system has ad-antibiotic-resistant bacteria and livestock is vantages over slatted confinement production.available from the Land Stewardship Project Hogs raised on bedding show less tail biting,in Minnesota in their Land Stewardship Letter fewer foot pad lesions, fewer leg problems, andarticle “Antibiotics, Agriculture & Resistance,” fewer respiratory problems. Research compar-available at www.landstewardshipproject.org/ ing growth and meat quality for pigs finishedpdf/antibio_reprint.pdf. in hoop shelters is limited, but some research has determined that hoop-finished pigs haveThe 2003 research article “Antibiotics in Dust fewer abnormal behaviors, have a greater rateOriginating from a Pig-Fattening Farm: A New of play behavior, and have fewer leg injuriesSource of Health Hazard for Farmers?” in Envi- than pigs finished in a non-bedded confinementronmental Health Perspectives comments on one system.(Gentry et al., 2001)possible antibiotic problem. It states that 90%of the dust samples taken during a 20-year pe- Pigs produced on pasture are usually healthierriod from the same hog building had detectable than pigs produced in confinement. Pasturedresidues of up to 5 different antibiotics. The hogs often have fewer respiratory diseases, rhi-researchers concluded: nitis, and foot and leg problems.(Cramer, 1990b) A 1978–79 survey of Missouri hog producers High dust exposure in animal confinement build- demonstrated that hogs raised on pastures had ings is believed to be a respiratory health hazard because of the high content of microorganisms, the lowest health costs. Hogs raised in a mix- endotoxins, and allergens. Further risks may ture of pasture and confinement had the highest arise from the inhalation of dust contaminated health expenses. This suggests that the hogs had a difficult time adjusting from one type of facility to another.(Kliebenstein, 1983)Hogs being raised on a pasture rotation system, Manhattan,Kansas. Photo by Jeff Vanuga, USDA NRCS Raising pigs outdoors can be more animal friendly and environmentally friendly, if managed correctly. However, poor management of outdoor pigs will lead to poor pig performance and environmental damage. Pigs need a dry, draft-free place to lie down; mud and slop will not produce healthy, happy hogs. Producers need to be concerned about rotating pastures and the need for vegetative cover in the pens. Probiotics (live, beneficial bacteria)—avail- able as gels, drenches, dry mixes, or for use in water—can replace or supplement naturally occurring gut microbes during times of stress or disease. During periods //HOG PRODUCTION ALTERNATIVES PAGE 17
  18. 18. of stress, such as weaning, shipping, or changes ral instincts, reduces their stress level with morein weather or feed, the populations of beneficial space to freely move about, and provides accessand pathogenic microbes can fluctuate, changing to either pasture or deep bedding.the balance in the intestinal tract.(Carter, 1990)Research on the use of probiotics is not conclu- The producer must choose a production systemsive. Probiotic firms argue that in laboratory that is profitable, but that also addresses the pub-conditions the stress is not enough to conclusively lic’s concerns about humane treatment of animals,demonstrate the value of probiotics. Dr. Austin safe food, and a clean environment. Economics,Lewis, a swine researcher at the University of environmental concerns, and humane treatmentNebraska, suggests that this assumption may may conflict, so it is usually up to the produc-be accurate, because laboratory conditions usu- ers to reconcile these issues in their operations.ally demonstrate a lower response to antibiotics, Information on humane treatment of livestock istoo. Many farmers have observed the benefits available from the American Humane Society atof probiotics in their everyday experiences, 303–792–9900, www.americanhumane.org; thebut finding research to support probiotic use is Animal Welfare Institute at 703–836–4300, www.difficult.(Cramer, 1990a) Since probiotics must awionline.org; and the Humane Society of thebe live to work, they need special care. Heat, United States at 202–452–1100, www.hsus.org.moisture, oxygen, and time can all reduce the According to the USDA National Organic Pro-viability of probiotics. It is also important to gram (NOP) regulations, organic hog producersremember that antibiotics can kill probiotics’ need to provide living conditions that accom-beneficial bacteria as well as pathogens, so it is modate the health and natural behavior of theirbest to check product compatibility. animals. These regulations support concerns for animal welfare, the sustainability of production, Humane Treatment and environmental quality. The methods organicSustainable pork producers need to consider how hog farmers use to meet the NOP requirementsthe consuming public views their operations. can include a wide range of alternative produc-Finishing and gestation buildings that restrict tion practices. For additional information onmovement and interaction among pigs have humane concerns, please see ATTRA’s Consid-become targets of media attacks. A sustainable erations in Organic Hog Production, and Furthersystem allows hogs a chance to pursue their natu- Resources: Web sites. Summary A sustainable hog operation is not an end in itself. All aspects of a farm are tied together. When you are producing pigs in a sustainable manner, you are using all parts of your farming operation. The manure or compost is used to help produce the diversified crops that feed the hogs. Legumes are also used to help feed the livestock and to add nitrogen back to the cropland. Animals are treated as parts of a living organism, not just parts of a product. The family is involved in the whole farm and as a part of the community. Sustainable agriculture exists in the interaction between the different aspects of farming; it is not the indi- vidual parts but the interaction among them that makes up the whole farming operation. Under the Animal Welfare Institute’s (AWI) Humane Husbandry Standards, sows are John Ikerd, in his presentation to the 2003 Sus- able to fulfill their instincts to build a nest before delivering their piglets. tainable Hog Farming Summit in Gettysburg, Photo by Diane Halverson/AWI Pennsylvania, discussed some of the environ-PAGE 18 //HOG PRODUCTION ALTERNATIVES