College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Andersen: Pit foaming continues to endanger pork producers

Pit foaming creates a dangerous environment for producers, said Dan Andersen, an ag engineer with Iowa State University. He said producers need to check pits often because conditions can change quickly. Andersen said three things are need to create foam — biogas, something to surround the bubble and something to stabilize the bubble. Feeding distillers grains is the major contributor to pit foam, he said.

“There is a lot more carbon coming out of the pig with distillers in the diet,” Andersen said.

“Protein is a binder in foam emulsions, and if we add more distillers and don’t adjust the diet accordingly, you can have foam.”

Pigs also do not digest fiber well, and he said when fiber breaks down, it turns into methane.

“The more fiber in the diet, the more carbon you are going to have in the manure,” Andersen said. “That tends to lead to these foaming communities.”

He said producers can take steps to stabilize foam. Since foam contains a large amount of protein, Andersen said there are chemical treatments available that will help break down the protein in the pit. He cautioned producers against trying to break up foam.

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