“Keep people out of the barns when pumping manure pits,” advises Mike Brumm, Brumm Swine Consultancy, Inc., North Mankato, MN. He offers tips for protecting both pigs and people in an online PorkCast webcast presentation entitled, “Emergency Ventilation and Properly Ventilating Barns When Emptying Manure Storage Pits.”

Brumm encourages producers to post lock-out tags on all entrances to buildings that will be undergoing manure pit agitation or pumping procedures. The lock-out tags were created by the Minnesota Pork Board, Iowa Pork Producers Association and Illinois Pork Producers Association. The tags contain information about both the start date and time and the end date and time of manure pit pumping and who to call with questions. Posting tags on the doors can prove helpful if liability questions arise, Brumm notes.

He strongly discourages workers from being in barns during pumping procedures, even if the worker is wearing a hydrogen sulfide detection device. “If a worker is in the middle of a room and the detection device registers gas, they can’t get to the exit fast enough,” Brumm says.

At least one person in addition to the manure handling personnel should be on-site and outside of the barn at all times when pits are being pumped. This person should have the 911 address of the site in writing for reference. An emergency action plan should also be on-site.

The PorkCast program was sponsored by the University of Minnesota Extension’s swine program and the Minnesota Pork Board. Additional tips from Brumm, as well as a printable form of the lock-out tag is available online at the UMN Exension site.