Pig Waste Management - DOC

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					                            Trip Report (Submitted March 20, 2006)

                       Farmer-to-Farmer Program – Jamaica Pig Project

                           Trip Period: February 28 – March 14, 2006

                                    Allen F. Harper, Ph.D.
                              Extension Animal Scientist – Swine
                               Virginia Tech Tidewater AREC

Executive Summary

        A two-week volunteer visit to Jamaica, West Indies was conducted from February 28
through March 14 in service to the Partners of the Americas Farmer-to-Farmer – Jamaica Pig
Project. As a component of this project, it has been recognized that improper manure
management in pig farming can negatively affect the environment through surface and ground
water enrichment and thus threaten the future sustainability of pig farming in the country. The
objective of this two-week visit to Jamaica was to make a general assessment of current pig farm
manure management practices, to conduct group and individual advisory sessions and to
recommend future direction for improvement in manure management.

        Facilitators and hosts for the project in Jamaica included representatives of the Inter-
American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the Jamaican Pig Farmers Association
(JPFA) and the coordinator for the Farmer-to-Farmer program in Jamaica. During the course of
the visit 17 pig farm visits were made throughout the Parishes of Portland, Manchester, St.
Elizabeth and Westmoreland. Educational seminars were given in Santa Cruz (34 participants)
and in Savanna La Mar (24 participants) and numerous small group and individual discussions
with pig farmers, agricultural leaders and educators. Key observations, considerations and
recommendations made during the volunteer visit are summarized in the following outline.

           1. It appears that the importance of environmentally sound waste management is
              only just now starting to be recognized on Jamaica’s pig farms. Continued
              information and educational effort is warranted to help livestock and poultry
              farmers understand the potential for improper manure management to degrade the
              quality of ground and surface water sources. In countries with more developed
              animal agriculture systems, history has shown that increased environmental
              regulations will occur as pig farms become larger and more intensive. But a
              proactive approach of improved manure management to reduce the potential
              negative environmental impact can allow for the development of regulations that
              are not excessively costly or onerous for farmers to abide with. It would seem
              that the same situation could evolve in Jamaica.
           2. Several of the farms visited were very small with less than 20 animals including
              breeders and growing pigs. It is tempting to suggest that the volume of waste
              generated at these sites is so small that negative environmental impact is unlikely.
              However, it should be noted that several of these farms could be located in close
              proximity within the same local watershed. Furthermore, part of the educational



                                                                                                 1
   objective is to establish the principle that proper manure management is an
   important component of pig farming regardless of farm size. Some of these small
   farms may expand in the future. As animal numbers increase on pig farms, failure
   to understand and adopt good manure management practices will increase the risk
   of environmental and water quality impact.

3. On some of the smaller farms waste was washed from the pens into earthen
   manure pits that had been manually dug near the piggery while at others the
   material was simply washed out of the pens into the surrounding area. The
   earthen pits prevent the potential direct flow of waste into natural drainage areas
   and surface waters. And, drainage into the pit offers some soil filtering of the
   waste. It is beyond this volunteer’s area of expertise to know the potential for
   soluble nutrients (mainly nitrogen and phosphorus) from the waste to impact
   ground water after percolating into the soil from the earthen pits. If the volume of
   waste is large (as on larger pig farms) and the pit is located near a sensitive area
   (eg. near a well or underground aquifer) the potential for ground water impact
   exists.

4. At other farm sites liquid effluent was washed from pens into vegetative filter
   areas such as grazing areas for ruminant livestock, into holding ponds or a
   combination of these two methods. These situations certainly pose less
   environmental risk than washing effluent into a location than can flow or wash
   directly into natural drainage or surface water area. Important considerations
   would be adequate capacity of the filtration area and (or) holding ponds for the
   quantity of waste being generated. Indeed some larger farm sites were visited at
   which there was potential for rain or natural drainage to move effluent to surface
   waters or other sensitive areas.

5. Solids removal and composting may offer a low investment means of collecting,
   storing and treating at least part of the pig manure stream on some of the smaller
   Jamaican pig farms. Solids separation removes a significant portion of the
   nutrients from the manure stream. Composting manure solids by strategic
   stacking with bedding material (peanut shelling trash, sawdust, etc.) or other
   fibrous products produces heat that reduces potential pathogens and stabilizes and
   dries the material. The resulting product is a nutrient rich material that is less
   expensive to transport for land application than liquids. The remaining liquid
   effluent after solids separation contains a lower nutrient load and could be
   collected in holding ponds for subsequent irrigation application or strategically
   filtered through vegetative areas.

6. Bio-digesters were either in use or under construction at four farm sites visited.
   From an environmental protection standpoint, the most apparent benefit of the
   bio-digesters was secure initial containment of raw liquid manure from the pig
   facilities. However, there are other considerations with the use of bio-digesters as
   a solution to manure management on Jamaican pig farms. Initial capital
   investment costs of installing bio-digester systems may dictate that the farm be of



                                                                                        2
              adequate size and generate income sufficient to cover the investment cost of a
              bio-digester system. Furthermore, careful planning and design criteria must be
              used to insure that the system put in place is adequate to meet the needs of the
              operation. For example if the system is undersized initially or the pig operation
              expands, the system will not be adequate to contain and treat the volume of
              manure generated. It must also be recognized that bio-digesters offer a good
              means to collect and treat manure and produce potentially valuable methane gas,
              but the need to utilize manure solids, liquids and sludge in an environmentally
              sound manner remains. An additional point is that that to capture the full
              economic benefit of bio-digester systems, an efficient means of utilization of
              captured biogas (methane) should be in place. This could potentially involve use
              for household cooking, heating of pig nursery facilities or electricity generation
              for the farm.

           7. A final waste management observation made on the farm visits is related to
              substantial fresh water use for manure wash-down. On many of the farms, fresh
              water was used to wash manure from solid-floored concrete pens on a daily or
              near daily basis. This practice is certainly important for pen sanitation and to
              maintain a clean environment for breeder and grower pigs. However, the
              excessive use of fresh water is a potential concern in some situations. On some
              farms it was noted that fresh water was in short supply, and excessive use for pen
              cleaning could compound this problem. In addition, if manure storage capacity is
              limited in holding ponds or other structures, excessive use of fresh water could fill
              manure storage capacity prematurely. For future construction, larger farmers may
              wish to consider concrete slatted flooring with under-slat pits for manure
              collection.

           8. In this volunteer’s opinion, important situation assessment and educational
              objectives were accomplished during this visit. What seems to be warranted for
              future activity regarding waste management could include two components. First
              agricultural leaders and educators in Jamaica should continue to instill to pig
              farmers the importance and principles of proper manure management introduced
              on this visit. This should include the principles of collect and contain, store and
              treat, and apply safely with a strategic purpose. Secondly, a follow-up visit
              involving the waste management objective may be best served by a visitor that
              has expertise in manure management systems and structures design. In most
              cases this type of individual is trained as an agricultural engineer with special
              emphasis in waste management. This current volunteer may be able to
              recommend potential visitor candidates with this expertise or People-to-People or
              JPFA leaders may be aware of potential candidates as well.


Background and Purpose

        Production of pigs and pork is an important component of Jamaica’s farming and cultural
heritage. For example small piggeries are a common supplemental enterprise on many of the



                                                                                                   3
diversified farms throughout the island. From a cultural perspective, pork is a key dietary
protein source in products such as “jerk pork”, stewed peas and pork and other uniquely
Jamaican dishes. However, this segment of the island’s agriculture is facing significant
challenges. Under current standards and practices, it will become increasingly difficult for
Jamaica to be competitive in supplying its pork needs in the general domestic market and the
market tied to the tourism and hospitality industries. Animal housing, genetic selection, breeding
management, production records, feeding and nutrition, marketing, and waste (manure)
management have all been identified as important areas for improvement.1

        Regarding waste management, it should be noted that up to this point in time, there has
been very little emphasis on this component of pig production by Jamaican farmers, educators or
governmental agencies. More recently it has been recognized that improper manure
management from animal agriculture can negatively affect the environment through surface and
ground water enrichment and the production of odor. The importance of this is magnified by the
sensitive nature of Jamaica’s ecosystem and watersheds and the importance of the tourism
industry to this small island country. The purpose of my two-week visit to Jamaica was to visit
with pig farmers and agricultural educators-leaders, to make a general assessment of current pig
farm manure management practices, to conduct group and individual advisory sessions and to
recommend future direction for improvement in manure management.

Trip Activities

        February 28 – March 2. Arrival into Kingston, Jamaica was on February 28. Marcia
Phillips-Dawkins, Farmer-to-Farmer Coordinator, arranged accommodations and provided
information on objectives and potential activities. The following day was spent preparing
seminar materials and included a meeting with Dr. Morgan Morrow who had just returned to
Kingston after performing his pig project activities throughout the island. On March 2 a meeting
was held at the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) headquarters.
The purpose was to hear Dr. Morrow’s debriefing on his pig productions records activities and to
discuss and finalize preparations for the waste management activities. Representatives of the
Jamaican Pig Farmers Association (JPFA), Newport Mills and IICA were in attendance.

       March 3 – March 4. On March 3 JPFA member Angela Bardowell2 transported me to
Portland Parish for farm visits. The drive provided a good opportunity to discuss Mrs.
Bardowell’s pig farming operation and general issues facing Jamaican pig farmers. We met Mrs.
Stephanie Sullivan in Port Antonio and made visits to the farms of Ms. Yolanda Weatherburn
and Mr. Author Hamilton. We also had a visit with Mr. Blackwood who operates a produce
exporting business and is considering adding a pig production enterprise. In the town of Port
Antonio we had brief visits with a pig producer, Mr. Tony Maraj, and a local community leader,
Mr. Alec Dehaney. We also purchased and sampled “jerk” pork, which is the principle market to


1
  Assessment of Jamaica’s Pig/Pork Industry, Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, Office in
Jamaica, Kingston, Jamaica, April 2003 (http://www.agroinfo.org/carribean/iicacarc/jamaica/pigstudy.pdf).
2
  The report author apologizes for potential misspelling of contact names in this document. During the course of the
visit, it was not possible to determine with complete accuracy the spelling of all names of the numerous people
involved.


                                                                                                                   4
which many of the small pig farmers in this region sell to. The following day (March 4) we
visited the pig farms of Ms. Sullivan (my host in Portland Parish), Mr. Dalton and Mr. Spencer.




Figure 1. A small piggery (foreground) adjacent to his small broiler chicken house in Portland
parish. Note the manure discharge at the base of the masonry pen wall.




Figure 2. A pig pen with concrete floor and masonry wall construction typical of the small farms
visited in Portland Parish. Limit feeding of grower pigs on the floor was commonly practiced.




                                                                                                  5
Figure 3. Mr. Spencer and Mrs. Sullivan standing at the manure collection gutter outside of Mr.
Spencer’s pens. The effluent collected in the gutter flowed by gravity to a covered earthen
manure “pit.”

        The piggeries visited in the Portland area were typically small. Pens were constructed
with concrete floors, and masonry pen partitions with zinc coated metal “shed” roofing overhead
(Figures 1 and 2). Manure was washed out with fresh water through manure ports at floor level,
in some cases into a collection gutter (Figure 3) leading to an earthen pit or in some cases simply
down the hillside. One farmer, whose piggery was situated in a banana grove overlooking a
stream, indicated that Ministry of Health officials had visited the farm and required that his
collected manure be channeled into an earthen pit rather than directly down the hillside.

          March 5 – March 7. After being transported to Mandeville in the afternoon and evening
of March 4, the next three days were spent in the Parishes of Manchester and St. Elizabeth.
Farm visits were arranged through Mrs. Herda Johnson, a pig producer, and Mr. Delroy Manya,
a veterinary technician with the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) and
president of the JPFA. In the Mandeville region of Manchester parish, visits were made (March
5) to the farms of Mr. Narlie Smith, St. James Bosco Boy’s Home and Mr. Lalor. Again
concrete floors with routine manure washout with fresh water were the norm. However, the
Bosco Boy’s Home unit was a larger farm with concrete manure collection pits under slatted
floors very similar to most U.S. and Canadian swine farms. It is noteworthy that each of these
farms had installed concrete bio-digester units for manure collection and treatment. Mr. Lalor’s
had been self-constructed while the others were of a circular design from a commercial
company. All three seemed to be functioning in terms of methane gas production, but build-up
and utilization of collected manure solids seemed to be a potential problem with some units.


                                                                                                  6
Figure 4. A manure bio-digester in use on a pig farm of in Manchester parish. The small
diameter PVC pipe carries methane gas from the digester for cooking stove use in farmer’s
home. Note some manure solids build-up on the surface of the digester tank.




                                                                                            7
Figure 5. The interior of the breeding and gestation barn at the St. James Bosco Boy’s Home pig
farm. Note that the pen work and concrete slatted floors are of similar construction as North
American confinement swine units, which is not the case at most Jamaican pig farms. Manure
was transferred from collection pits to a bio-digester outside of the buildings. Some problem
with solids build-up was being experienced.



        The following day (March 6) visits throughout the St. Elizabeth Parish were made to the
farms of Mr. Howard White, Mr. Dennis Longman, Mr. Glen Gayle and Mr. Maxwell. Farm
sizes ranged from about 12 breeder sows to as many as 50 or more. Manure handling within the
pens was typically by daily wash-down but Mr. Longman confined his pigs in dirt pens with
attached concrete-floored feeding sheds. Effluent leaving the pens was handled in variable ways
among the farms including draining to holding ponds and vegetative filters with what appeared
as variable degrees of environmental security. One farmer was collecting some solids from his
effluent stream and in effect was building a manure compost pile. The remaining liquid flowed
to a vegetative pasture area.




                                                                                              8
Figure 6. A manure collection box receiving wash-down effluent from a larger piggery in St.
Elizabeth Parish. Some solids removal by hand labor occurred here and liquid effluent flowed to
holding ponds in cattle pastures.




Figure 7. Manually separated manure solids and bedding formed into a crude compost pile
adjacent to a manure collection gutter on a farrow-to-feeder pig farm in St. Elizabeth Parish.
Remaining liquid effluent flowed to a vegetative pasture area.




                                                                                                 9
Figure 8. Manure effluent moving down hill in a wooded area from concrete pen wash-down at a
piggery in St. Elizabeth Parish. There is concern at this site because a major river is in close
proximity to the farm.




Figure 9. An educational seminar being held near Santa Cruz. Delroy Manya, president of the
Jamaican Pig Farmers Association is addressing the participants.


                                                                                              10
        On March 7 an educational seminar was conducted at Chariot’s hotel near Santa Cruz
with 34 persons in attendance (Figure 9). From this volunteer’s perspective, the educational
objective was to provide the basis for making manure management a high priority on Jamaican
pig farms and to clearly describe the basic principles associated with sustainable manure
management. This is an important first step because the reality is that manure management is
not considered a “profit center” at any pig farm, but it is essential for long-term sustainability.
Key emphasis of the presentation was on selecting manure management systems that allowed for
three important features: 1) collect and contain, 2) store and treat, and 3) land apply with a safe
and strategic purpose. Another concept presented was that manure contains nutrients,
particularly nitrogen and phosphorus, which can be recycled beneficially into crops and forages
but can also be damaging to ground and surface waters. The presentation seemed to be well
received and the questions and discussion afterwards was positive.

        March 8 – March 14. March 8 was a travel day from Santa Cruz to Savanna La Mar in
Westmoreland Parish. The following day farm visits were conducted throughout the parish with
Mr. Henry Graham, a farmer and JPFA member from the region. Visits included the farms of
Mr. Black (about 110 sows, farrow-to-finish), Mr. Paul Claire (about 25 sows, farrow-to-feeder
pig), Mr. Nathan Mailer (more than 100 sows, farrow-to-finish) and Mr. Henry Graham (more
than 100 sows, farrow-to-finish with planned expansion). Confinement pens and farrowing stalls
in these operations were arranged on solid concrete floors and manure removal from pens was by
daily wash-down with fresh water. On three farms the manure washed from the pens was
transferred by gravity flow to either holding ponds or an earthen “pit.” A bio-digester for
manure treatment was under construction and nearly complete at Mr. Graham’s farm.

        On March 10 an educational seminar was given to producers at a church fellowship hall
in Savanna La Mar. There were approximately 24 in total attendance. The educational objective
and subject matter presented was as described for the seminar given in Santa Cruz. Like the
previous presentation, questions and discussion were lively and conducive to effective exchange
of information.

        A leisure day was taken on Saturday, March 11 in Negril and on March 12, I was
transported back to Kingston for report preparation and a debriefing meeting which was held on
March 13 at the IICA headquarters in Kingston. Present at the debriefing were representatives of
IICA, the Farmer-to-Farmer program and JPFA. On March 14, I was transported back to the
airport in Kingston by the Farmer-to-Farmer coordinator, Marcia Dawkins, and returned to
Virginia.




                                                                                                 11
Figure 10. Manure effluent flowing from a concrete-floored, 110- sow farrow-to-finish pig farm
in Westmoreland Parish to a holding pond. Note that manure flows into the holding pond across
open ground rather than through a constructed gutter or piping system.




                                                                                            12
Figure 11. Manure gutter system at another pig farm in Westmoreland Parish. Manure was
washed from the pens and effluent moved by gravity flow to a relatively concentrated holding
pond adjacent to the unit.




                                                                                               13
Figure 12. Henry Graham and Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer, Allen Harper inside Mr. Graham’s
swine facility in Westmoreland Parish. Mr. Graham’s farm is relatively intensive by Jamaican
standards and he currently has a bio-digester under construction for manure collection and
treatment.

General Observations – Waste Management

         It appears that the importance of environmentally sound waste management is only just
now starting to be recognized on Jamaica’s pig farms. Continued information and educational
effort is warranted to help livestock and poultry farmers understand the potential for improper
manure management to degrade the quality of ground and surface water sources. Part of the
difficulty is that manure management receives less priority on pig (and other livestock) farms
than other components of farm management because manure management is not a “profit
center.” For example, a farmer is more likely to see financial returns to investment, labor and
management that result in better pig breeding and growth performance rather than in improved
manure management. In countries with more developed animal agricultural systems, history has
shown that increased environmental regulations will occur as pig farms become larger and more
intensive. But a proactive approach of improved manure management to reduce the potential
negative environmental impact can allow for the development of regulations that are not
excessively costly or onerous for farmers to abide with. It would seem that the same situation
could evolve in Jamaica.

       Several of the farms visited were very small with less than 20 animals including breeders
and growing pigs. It is tempting to suggest that the volume of waste generated at these sites is so


                                                                                                14
small that negative environmental impact is unlikely. However, it should be noted that several of
these farms could be located in close proximity within the same local watershed. The combined
effect of poor manure management at several sites in close proximity increases the potential for
negative environmental impact. Furthermore, part of the educational objective is to establish the
principle that proper manure management is an important component of pig farming regardless
of farm size. Some of these small farms may expand in the future. As animal numbers increase
on pig farms, failure to understand and adopt good manure management practices will increase
the risk of environmental and water quality impact.

         On some of the smaller farms waste was washed from the pens into earthen manure pits
that had been manually dug near the piggery while at others the material was simply washed out
of the pens into the surrounding area. The earthen pits prevent the potential direct flow of waste
into natural drainage areas and surface waters. And, drainage into the pit offers some soil
filtering of the waste. It is beyond this volunteer’s area of expertise to know the potential for
soluble nutrients (mainly nitrogen and phosphorus) from the waste to impact ground water after
percolating into the soil from the earthen pits. If the volume of waste is large (as on larger pig
farms) and the pit is located near a sensitive area (eg. near a well or underground aquifer) the
potential for ground water impact exists.

        At other farm sites liquid effluent was washed from pens into vegetative filter areas such
as grazing areas for ruminant livestock, into holding ponds or a combination of these two
methods. These situations certainly pose less environmental risk than washing effluent into a
location than can flow or wash directly into natural drainage or surface water area. Important
considerations would be adequate capacity of the filtration area and (or) holding ponds for the
quantity of waste being generated. Indeed some larger farm sites were visited at which there was
potential for rain or natural drainage to move effluent to surface waters or other sensitive areas.
Gravity flow of larger volumes of waste across open areas vulnerable to washing by rainfall is
one area of concern observed at some of the farms visited.

        Solids removal and composting may offer a low investment means of collecting, storing
and treating at least part of the pig manure stream on some of the smaller Jamaican pig farms.
Indeed one farm visited was practicing a crude form of composting by removing and piling
solids (bedding material and solid manure) from the concrete effluent gutter adjacent to his pig
pens. Solids separation removes a significant portion of the nutrients from the manure stream.
Composting manure solids by strategic stacking with bedding material (peanut shelling trash,
sawdust, etc.) or other fibrous products produces heat that reduces potential pathogens and
stabilizes and dries the material. The resulting product is a nutrient rich material that is less
expensive to transport for land application than liquids. The remaining liquid effluent after
solids separation contains a lower nutrient load and could be collected in holding ponds for
subsequent irrigation application or strategically filtered through vegetative areas.

        As indicated bio-digesters were either in use or under construction at four farm sites
visited. From an environmental protection standpoint, the most apparent benefit of the bio-
digesters was the secure initial containment of raw liquid manure from the pig facilities. With
manure directed from the pens through concrete channels or large volume PVC piping to the
concrete bio-digester tank, there is little risk of direct losses to ground or surface waters.



                                                                                                  15
         However, there are other considerations with the use of bio-digesters as a solution to
manure management on Jamaican pig farms. Initial capital investment costs of installing bio-
digester systems may dictate that the farm be of adequate size and generate income sufficient to
cover the investment cost of a bio-digester system. Furthermore, careful planning and design
criteria must used to insure that the system put in place is adequate to meet the needs of the
operation. For example if the system is undersized initially or the pig operation expands, the
system will not be adequate to contain and treat the volume of manure generated. It must also be
recognized that bio-digesters offer a good means to collect and treat manure and produce
potentially valuable methane gas, but the need to utilize manure solids, liquids and sludge in an
environmentally sound manner remains. Stated another way, a bio-digester system does not
eliminate manure solids and liquids and consequently a plan to utilize these nutrients in crop and
(or) forage production on the site farm or nearby farms must be employed in a manner similar to
other manure management systems. A final point is that that to capture the full economic benefit
of bio-digester systems, an efficient means of utilization of captured biogas (methane) should be
in place. This could potentially involve use for household cooking, heating of pig nursery
facilities or electricity generation for the farm.

         A final waste management observation made on the farm visits is related to significant
fresh water use for manure wash-down. On many of the farms, fresh water was used to wash
manure from solid-floored concrete pens on a daily or near daily basis. This practice is certainly
important for pen sanitation and to maintain a clean environment for breeder and grower pigs.
However, the excessive use of fresh water is a potential concern in some situations. On some
farms it was noted that fresh water was in short supply, and excessive use for pen cleaning could
compound this problem. In addition, if manure storage capacity is limited in holding ponds or
other structures, excessive use of fresh water could fill manure storage capacity prematurely. For
future construction, larger farmers may wish to consider concrete slatted flooring with under-slat
pits for manure collection. Such facilities do not require daily wash-down to maintain sanitary
pen conditions. Instead these types of pens are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after a group
of pigs is moved out of the pens but before a new group is brought in. The pig farm at St. James
Bosco Boy’s Home in Manchester Parish has examples of this type of facility.

Future Activity

        In this volunteer’s opinion, important situation assessment and educational objectives
were accomplished during this visit. What seems to be warranted for future activity regarding
waste management could include two components. First the agricultural leaders and educators in
Jamaica should continue to instill to pig farmers the importance and principles of proper manure
management on Jamaican pig farms. Included in this is the philosophy of collect and contain,
store and treat, and apply safely with a strategic purpose. Secondly, a follow-up visit involving
the waste management objective may be best served by a visitor that has expertise in manure
management systems and structures design. In most cases this type of individual is trained as an
agricultural engineer with special emphasis in waste management. This current volunteer may
be able to recommend potential visitor candidates with this expertise or People-to-People or
JPFA leaders may be aware of potential candidates as well.




                                                                                               16
Other Observations

Item:           Observation and Considerations:
Feeding         Two methods of feeding were observed: limit feeding on the floor once or more
methods         times daily or “ad libitum” feeding using self-feeders. It was noted in a few
                cases that young grower pigs may not have been receiving enough feed to meet
                requirements for energy, protein and other nutrients. It was also noted that
                excessive floor feeding or use of worn or poorly adjusted self-feeders was
                resulting in some feed waste. Wasted feed represents a financial loss to the
                farmer and results in unnecessary nutrients and organic matter entering the
                manure stream. For daily floor feeding of grower pigs, troughs may help reduce
                the amount of feed wasted. Self-feeders should be kept adjusted and in good
                repair.
Lactating       It was noted that some sows nursing large litters were in relatively poor body
sows and        condition. This can impair sow rebreeding performance and longevity. On most
nursing litters Jamaican farms early-weaning of pigs (i.e. less than 4 weeks of age) should not
                be recommended because the nursery pen environments are not suitable for very
                young pigs. However, greater feed allowance for sows nursing large litters may
                be in order for some farms. In North America, sows nursing large litters are
                essentially fed all they will consume during lactation. Regarding litters, it was
                noted some nursing piglets were experiencing diarrhea. One possible
                contributing factor may have been damp conditions in farrowing pens and crates
                due to daily wash-down. Although it is important for farrowing pens to remain
                sanitary, damp conditions in the nursing pig area are known to contribute to
                diarrhea problems. For farrowing pens with solid floors, perhaps greater use of
                lightweight dry bedding material and hand scraping to remove sow manure may
                provide a better environment for nursing piglets.
Pen             Most farms were doing a good job of providing shade over all pens. However,
environments on a few farms, the shade provided by zinc roofing or other coverage was
                minimal. Larger pigs are especially vulnerable to heat stress and all pigs are
                vulnerable to sunburned skin. Adequate shade over all pens in a hot
                environment like that of Jamaica is essential. In a few other cases it was noted
                that smaller, poorer doing pigs were in pens with larger groups of pigs.
                Separating such pigs into “hospital” pens for special treatment and care can, in
                some cases, help restore them to better health and productivity.
Bio-security    The concept of bio-security measures to minimize potential for disease transfer
                among farms seems to receive little attention in Jamaica. Ideally, visitors to a
                farm should assure that they have not recently visited other pig farms and their
                clothing and vehicles have been properly cleaned before going onto a farm. The
                host farm can provide boots and coveralls for visitors when appropriate. On
                many farms visited in Jamaica, wild birds (and perhaps other animals) moved
                freely into and out of pig pens. On most North American confinement farms
                with open sided facilities, bird screening is used to prevent bird entry.




                                                                                              17

				
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