Pork producers should be watchful this fall for pit foaming problems when working around deep-pit manure systems to make safety their number one priority.

“Whenever you are about to agitate or remove manure from a deep pit, you need to remove the pigs first, if at all possible, and make sure no one is in the building,” says Allan Stokes, Pork Checkoff’s director of environmental programs. “It’s best to clearly mark entryways to buildings where manure agitation or pump-out is going on by using door tags, such as the free ones offered by the Checkoff through the Pork Store (www.pork.org).”

“Safety must be the first concern for people and animals,” Stokes stresses. Keeping that goal in mind, he offers a couple key steps to help improve safety including:

  • Maintaining maximum ventilation rates for a period prior to and during agitation and pump-out to help avoid gas build-up in the building and
  • Shutting off equipment not necessary for manure removal such as heaters and automatic feed systems, which could serve as ignition sources for any gas pockets in the building.

Stokes also advises producers to be cautious about products that promise to “defoam” pits or make them safer to work around. The Pork Checkoff and others are funding ongoing research into what causes pits to foam. Until these causes are clearly known, it is difficult to determine what will actually work to eliminate pit foaming.

Producers can download or order the Checkoff’s fact sheet, “Safe Manure Removal Policies,” through the Pork Store at no cost.