Pig farming improves its image (worldwide) | Business | The Earth Times

Pig farming improves its image (worldwide)

By Dave Armstrong – 13 Jan 2015 19:21:14 GMT

The breeds of pig that have developed from ancient wild boar lineages ae weird and wonderful. This woolly example is the Hungarian Mangalica pig, well adapted to outdoor breeding – and looking ready for shearing.

Mangalica pig image; Credit: © Shutterstock

From Polynesia to Danish bacon, the human population tend to pork as a prime meat source, easy to rear and cheap to fatten up. Affluence doesn’t affect the popularity of the ubiquitous meat, while the animal is regarded as a friendly-faced domestic. The trouble has been that the waste of large industrial farms has created chaos in the US and elsewhere. Pig farmers used to spread waste on neighbours’ arable land, but that land is no longer arable in most cases. Lagoons of waste caused the main nuisance when dams broke or rainfall caused flooding of the waste into river systems.

The less obvious solutions to burgeoning pig waste include biofuels, somehow storing the manure and water saving ideas. With 793 million tonnes of carbon dioxide released from pork production, we must not forget emissions controls. The need to green agriculture is often forgotten in the rush to state oil companies’ contributions, but this is a relatively low impact per carcase or even in terms of a carbon footprint. Feed production and waste management produce around half of the emissions each. The International Meat Secretariat published this report in 2012 in an effort to publicise how many countries are working to reduce emissions, but also becoming much more environmentally-friendly. Several extra nations are noted here.

It is not the US who possess the most production, but China, where it forms 63% of all meat consumption. The Far East generally rely traditionally on pork in the diet, with only 13.7 hogs per year from each sow. This points to a possible improvement in productivity, with much less feed required per animal when the reproductive rate is raised. Perhaps the Chinese are happy with their current methods, but worldwide, the industry is streamlining in this way.

Manual removal of manure is now preferred to spraying, in order to save water, using slatted flooring in the larger farming facilities. Biogas engineering interests in China have been encouraged to use household and farming waste as part of a grand recycling plan to improve “ecological efficiency.” In contrast, the US experience has more reported problems. The hogs in North Carolina are often regarded as a nuisance because of the pollution problems they have caused*. Along with Canadian hog producers, best practice is the keyword now, using appropriate breeds, and injecting manure to reduce carbon footprint with the use of manure storage covers to restrict methane.

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