Preventing pigsplosions

Exactly. Plus, if they built a sludge digestion system, they could harvest enough biogas to power the sludge digestion system and part of the farm operations. On a positive note, this idea sounds like one hell of a start-up company.

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IIRC this technology is actually extant and in use.


I agree with you. Recently I listened to two customers in the grocery store argue over whether ham/pork comes from pigs or not. If many people don’t even know that their food comes from an animal, then I don’t believe you will see any results from trying to explain the cruelty that occurred before that ham arrived in the grocery store. So disconnected…

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It sounds crazy, I know, but I’m just gonna put it out there anyways: cleaning up the pig shit? I know, I know, not gonna happen…

Bacon at velocity is the issue, yes.

I really hate to think what’ll be written as the epitaphs of scientists that die of pigshit reaching critical mass in laboratory experiments…

They add Yucca saponin to piggy poo to keep the odor down. Saponins are a known foaming agent. Its like… what they fucking do. They trap explosive gases producing explosive foams.

I assume a defoamer would fix the problem. Cheaper than antibiotics.

— lifted and copypasted here from a user guest in the original forum.

Not so curious, really. Some history: pig manure smells so bad and neighbors (often recent arrivals after a developer builds houses not far down the road from a pig farm) complained so loudly that it became necessary to find something to reduce the odor. One solution that has gained traction since the 1980s was use of commercial preparations containing extract of Yucca schidigera. The inner juice of this desert plant (a cactus-like item that actually belongs to the lilly family) contains a group of compounds called saponins. Saponins produce such stable foams they are used in root beer for this very effect. An entirely unrelated property of (specifically) sarsaponin is its ability to inhibit the enzyme urease, which is secreted by microorganisms such as those in the digestive tract of pigs.

Urease normally converts urea (a nitrogen-containing component of manure and urine from the incomplete digestion of proteins) into ammonia, and ammonia is one of the most prevalent and offensive of all malodors among gases emanating from rotting manure. No urease activity, no ammonia, less obnoxious smell. A second reason these products control manure pit odors is that the foam they produce entraps some of the gases that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere, thus reducing the olfactory offense to pigfarm neighbors.

There are two US manufacturers - which for general reasons will not be named here, but a quick search of terms on the internet will easily identify them - of products that use Yucca schidigera extract to control livestock waste odors. And they have made a lot of money over the years selling their products to Midwestern pigfarmers. But now we have these exploding pigpens…

The relationship between exploding pig manure and the products used to reduce its odor, is that the foams referred to in the article actually result from the buildup of saponin in the manure pits over time. There was no problem for years when the products were first used because the residual foaming compound was low. But now there is enough saponin buidup in these pits to form a VERY persistent foam. So persistent that much of the methane (and secondarily hydrogen sulfide) from the rotting pig manure is trapped in the foam, forming an explosive atmosphere beneath the pits.

All it takes to ignite the explosion is a spark, say from a lightswitch being thrown inside the barn, and the result is…well, if you got this far you probably read the article above as well, and now you know the rest. While this information is not widely known, that’s how it really is, folks.


How does nature handle all the massive piles of pig manure that wild boars pile up in the wild?

Oh, right.

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Going all the way back: Eating pigs is exactly as ethically dubious as eating dogs. That is to say: Some cultures slaughter them for food or skins, some cultures keep them as pets, some cultures use them as work animals, some cultures use them as lab animals, some do more than one of these… and the real ethical question is whether the animals are raised, used, and (when relevant) slaughtered as humanely as possible given what they’re being used for.

I agree that factory farms historically have done pretty darned poorly on that front – but I don’t see an automatic reason for drawing any particular cut-off line based on pigs being “as intelligent as dogs”; all that means is that the definition of what is or isn’t humane should be raised a notch from what we’d consider adequate for, say, rabbits.

If you want to draw that line for yourself, great; I absolutely support anyone who’s willing and able to find a set of rules that works for them. For myself, I think finding ways to make the farm more comfortable for the animals – the sort of work that Temple Grandin was known for doing – and the planet, and rewarding those farms which move in the right direction, is likely to do more good sooner for less effort than trying to change the culture. It’s STILL going to be an uphill battle, but I think it’s going to be an easier one to convince others to support.

Which reminds me, I need to decide what we’re ordering from the chinese restaurant. It will almost certainly include pork, I’m afraid.

Deep bedding is the solution: It’s a traditional technique abandoned in our age of factory farming, sadly.

Unfortunately I think that only works with a sane amount of room allowed for the animals. With commercial farming you would have 12 pigs in the space where the photos here show 3.

And both her and her work are worth knowing!
BTW, I think she’s still teaching at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.

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But, but … food comes from the supermarket, right? You know, like my electricity comes from the wall socket?

Yeah, I’ve had conversations with people who couldn’t believe chips are potatoes etc. It’s okay if it’s a three year old, but adults…
On a related note: just the other day someone workung at a kindergarden told me they have kids who a) don’t know what a raw carrot looks like and b) can’t eat it without assistance because they can’t bite a bit off and chew it - because their jaw and throat muscles are underdeveloped from being raised on soft squishy food. These kids usually also have deficits in their speech development as some of the muscles in your head and neck not only help you with eating your food but are also part of the complex network of muscles me need to speak. Which provides work for speech-language pathologists (SLPs) aka speech therapists.

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True. And that overcrowding is a huge disease risk.

The thing about deep bedding that is so great is that you are adding a carbon source. Combine that with the nitrogen in pig waste and you have the beginnings of compost rather than sewage.

On the bright side, they’re part of the way toward figuring out how to collect
biogas from pig farms…

Pigs don’t give bacon either. You have to kill them and take it from them. I would be much more ethical if they could just give bacon.

Or grow it in a tank without the rest of the pig. Seriously, what do we need all that other stuff for?

I have a chunk of poo on my sole telling me the alliance is long sundered.

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Pigsplosions are important to the study of medieval siege warfare, so you can’t expect me not to post.

Also, I think Posidonius said my ancient celtic ancestors were overjoyed at the introduction of pigs to Britain, because they could eat acorns (which the Celts thought inedible to men) and their “flesh is sweeter than oxen”.

I am vaguely aware that all this has nothing to do with the topic, sorry Maggie, and good night all.

I could have sworn I read the Welsh used sheep for their siege warfare, but maybe they knew that pigs were more explosive?