Safety measures and treatment strategies for swine manure foaming

In the world of livestock farming, the management of swine manure is a critical aspect that demands constant attention. As manure pumping and application continue, taking safety precautions and using effective treatment strategies is essential to address the rising concern of swine manure foaming on farms.

Swine manure foaming occurs when a combination of factors including diet, microbial activity, and environmental conditions, produces stable foam in manure storage facilities. Daniel Andersen, associate professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering at Iowa State University, said this foam can pose significant challenges, ranging from increased emissions to potential safety hazards for animals and farm workers.

“Farmers must be vigilant and proactive in managing swine manure to ensure the safety of livestock and farm workers,” he said. “This means strict adherence to safety protocols in and around the building.”

One such protocol is maintaining continuous ventilation in confined spaces to mitigate the risks associated with gas accumulation. Another is turning off the heater pilot light and other non-ventilation electrical systems, such as the feed system that may produce an ignition spark, if performing a task that may disrupt the foam.

Andersen reminded producers of the need for practical treatment strategies to address swine manure foaming.

“I’m an advocate of incorporating anti-foaming agents and carefully monitoring manure storage conditions,” he said. “Understanding the factors that contribute to foaming, such as diet composition and microbial activity, is crucial in developing effective treatment plans.”

Andersen said the significance of regular assessments cannot be stressed enough. Assessments can help producers identify potential foaming issues before the issues escalate, thus preventing environmental contamination and ensuring the well-being of the animals.

To better understand foam and management options when foaming occurs, view and download this free six-page handout (pdf) that describes causes of foam, treatment options, and critical safety points.

“Prioritizing safety measures and adopting proactive strategies in treating swine manure foaming is crucial,” Andersen said. “Farmers can enhance the sustainability and efficiency of their operations while safeguarding the health and safety of livestock and farm personnel.”