Preventing pigsplosions

There is also the option of not operating huge fucking pig farms and not piling up the manure like that.

But but, that would require people eating less pig meat – can’t have that! Nor, I guess, can we have people thinking for more than a second or two about where their food comes from, and what its real costs are.


Exactly, just skip the middle man, I mean, animal.

1 Like

There was a dog-meat restaurant near where I used to live in Beijing. I was like meh since I don’t eat pigs either. I guess vegetarianism can be useful sometimes in smoothing out your sense of outrage about such things.


Hey, we figured out how to “tickle the tail” to get a controlled release of U or Pu (I see what I did there ) in our nukes, so why not do the same w/ pigshit? Just load containers with critical mass minus epsilon and generate MORE POWER

I have a solution! Ship it up to the moon and house it in great massive piles. It can’t hurt anyone up on . . the . . moon . .

. . Gerry Anderson’s dead, right?

Both this writeup and the linked article seem to believe that the antibiotics are being fed to the pigs. However, the linked article’s source says

a 55-pound bag of Rumensin 90, a common antibacterial ingredient in cattle feed that helps reduce bloating. Pigs don’t eat it. Hill brought it here to dump into the manure pit under the hogs.

So, we can worry about antibiotics in groundwater or whatever, but dumping antibiotics into a pool of pigshit does not seem likely to lead to antibiotic resistance in the pigs themselves


But the hominid-canine alliance goes back tens of thousands of years! If we renege on it now we risk having our throats ripped out in our sleep.


I love food, including meat, but this requires my food to be appetizing. Appetizing isn’t limited to the plate presentation, but includes the preparation, not just in the kitchen, but from start to finish.

This story is unappetizing, not because of the explosions, but because of the squalid conditions. A similar unappetizing thought is that many E. coli outbreaks in produce come from field workers who aren’t provided with adequate bathroom facilities so they piss/shit in the fields.

I’ll pay more money to keep the human shit out of my leafy greens and for meat/eggs/dairy to come from animals that live in environments that wouldn’t immediately induce me to vomit from 200 yards away.

(Also, this is a cruel way to treat animals, but that is a less compelling argument in out society, isn’t it?)

1 Like

It’s not the pigs we are concerned about, but the bacteria that inhabit them and our environment.

I’m afraid it doesn’t highly matter where we pump antibiotics, and pig feces will contain plenty of bacteria that inhabit pigs to be a sufficient concern.

My guess is that they haven’t bothered to look that hard for a solution, as sludge digestion is a well studied subject in the wastewater industry. However, they’re probably trying to avoid any kind of capital investment to solve the problem, which suggests how they’ve arrived at their “only” solution. While this isn’t my area of expertise, their best bet would be to aerate and mix the sludge so that it doesn’t go anaerobic and start producing methane. An air compressor, some sludge pumps, and some piping, which they could probably install themselves. If they have some space, just build a lagoon and pump it there.


That’s roughly what I was about to point out – There has been an ongoing attempt to convince pig farms that their effluent needs to be treated in exactly the same ways, and for exactly the same reasons, that we insist human effluent is. Obviously they don’t want to spend that money; maybe this will help convince them.

But, yeah, they’re more likely to throw antibiotics at it. On my more pessimistic days I’m convinced that medicine has reached its peak, since we seem determined to breed antibiotic resistance into everything in sight.


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.

1 Like

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…

1 Like

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.

1 Like

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.