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[Crap] happens: Mysterious ‘manure foam’ causes pig farms to explode
grist ^ | 2012-02-08 | Tom Laskawy

Posted on 02/14/2012 8:03:31 AM PST by cartan

It is said that nature abhors a vacuum. Well, according to this report from the Minnesota Daily, nature also abhors factory farms. Large midwestern hog farms have for the last few years been battling a mysterious foam that is forming on top of their barns. In the worst case scenarios, the foam blocks ventilation ducts and the barns explode—yes, explode—killing the thousands of hogs inside. The report reads:

The foam traps gases like methane and when a spark ignites it causes an explosion. About a half dozen barns in the Midwest have exploded since the foam was discovered in 2009.

In mid-September 2011, a barn in Iowa was added to the growing number of barns taken down by the foam. In the explosion, 1,500 pigs were lost, and one worker was injured.

The cause of the foam is still unknown, although there are indications that the source may be new species of bacteria that have evolved in the barns’ manure pits—in many hog barns the manure is stored underneath the barn before transfer to those notorious manure lagoons.

Another possible cause for reasons that remain unclear may be the routine practice of feeding pigs dried distillers grains, a byproduct of ethanol production. Less innocuous than they sound, dried distillers grains—though made from corn and nominally edible—are nothing more than industrial waste. They are also laced with antibiotics.

Do we need any better sign that these massive livestock operations are a bad idea? Big Pork made Mother Nature angry. And now—like something out of a science fiction novel—it looks like bacteria have evolved to destroy factory farms.

The pork industry has been funding research into the foam and how to stop it. But as I see it the answer is simple. Get the pigs out of the barns and onto pasture, and raise them at a less intensified scale without the need for huge manure-storage “facilities.”

And if you don’t, Big Pork, those multi-million-dollar hog barns might just blow up.

TOPICS: Agriculture; Pets/Animals
This is series!
1 posted on 02/14/2012 8:03:37 AM PST by cartan
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To: cartan

I know this is a silly question, but did they happen to analyze the foam? If it reaches a height of 4 feet, it shouldn’t be hard to get a sample.

2 posted on 02/14/2012 8:08:23 AM PST by Lx (Do you like it, do you like it. Scott? I call it Mr. and Mrs. Tennerman chili.)
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To: cartan
Ribs tonight.


3 posted on 02/14/2012 8:13:09 AM PST by nothingnew (I fear for my Republic due to marxist influence in our government. Open eyes/see)
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To: cartan

Who run Barter Town?!!


4 posted on 02/14/2012 8:22:27 AM PST by Ransomed
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To: cartan
Foam blocks vents???...Maybe install something stupid like a fan so that it CAN'T grow.

Wonder how much the insurance company paid.

Really sounds like owner sabotage.

5 posted on 02/14/2012 8:23:10 AM PST by Sacajaweau
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To: cartan

Does a pig fart in a barn?

They were happier than pigs in $hit.

This little piggy went to market, this little piggy stayed home, this little piggy went BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, because of the foam.

6 posted on 02/14/2012 8:31:09 AM PST by faucetman ( Just the facts, ma'am, Just the facts)
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To: cartan

Those pigs don’t put out near the crap that grist does.

7 posted on 02/14/2012 8:46:41 AM PST by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
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To: cartan

This is news - NO this is food politics. The foam is from poor management ie too much wasted water in the manure.
Laced with antibiotics? Most farmers don’t even use any.
I have 7000 pigs, maybe I should turn them out for free range. Oh wait there is a foot of snow on the ground and it’s freezing. Oh well.

8 posted on 02/14/2012 8:56:16 AM PST by NWHawk (Not Quirky)
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To: cartan

Sounds like there’s some yeast mixing in with those table scraps.

9 posted on 02/14/2012 8:56:57 AM PST by chopperman
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To: NWHawk

Feed them OWS hippies.

10 posted on 02/14/2012 9:06:30 AM PST by Yehuda
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To: faucetman

Here is a video of a man who had been eating the same food.

11 posted on 02/14/2012 9:07:50 AM PST by Lees Swrd ("Arms discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe and preserve order in the world as well")
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To: Yehuda

Beleve me, pigs are very efficient at destroying evidence.
Good idea, would cut down on feed costs.

12 posted on 02/14/2012 9:10:41 AM PST by NWHawk (Not Quirky)
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To: cartan

Factory farms are an evil product of crony capitalism. They donate to the politicians to subsidize them, and also to put various roadblocks in the way of small family farms, which should be the backbone of our nation.

The ethanol scam is the best known of these distortions, but there are many others, including massive use of pesticides and questionable fertilizers. You get more production from the same acreage—for a while—but it destroys the long term productivity of the soil, while it puts all those small farms out of business, or makes them unprofitable to run. Then when the new methods fail, there is nothing to fall back on.

This latest setback is typical of the kind of thing that happens when things get distorted far enough out of line.

13 posted on 02/14/2012 9:37:47 AM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: Lx
Did they happen to analyze the foam?
Apparently, it contains mostly methane. The interesting question is more what causes it:
The researchers conduct their studies on commercial farms in Minnesota and surrounding states. Chuck Clanton, a bioproducts and biosystems engineering professor, said the team’s current approach is targeting how different microorganisms—primarily bacteria—developed in the manure pit. They think that a new set of species has formed in these pits in the last few years.


“It’s very frustrating when you have two identical buildings sitting next to each other with same management, genetics, diets, etc. One foams, and the other does not,” Clanton said.

14 posted on 02/14/2012 9:42:32 AM PST by cartan
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To: Cicero

This is Free Republic, take your crap back to your environmental do gooder site. Your ignorance is showing.

15 posted on 02/14/2012 9:59:56 AM PST by NWHawk (Not Quirky)
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To: cartan

I guess Mr.Laskawy has a thing against thousands head pig ranchws. The article raises the questions but doesn’t provide the answers. But if we’re in pig ranchero country and we see this phenom least we’il know what it is

16 posted on 02/14/2012 10:10:28 AM PST by mosesdapoet ("The best way to punish a country is let professors run it. Fredrick the Great)
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To: Lx

it would seem that manure pits are impropertly ventilated...those pits can kill a human if they go down into them and within a matter of seconds...There was a story many years ago about a worker than went into the pits for some reason and died from the toxic air....ventilation is of vital importance on pig farms...wonder if it has been done on the cheap allowing toxic air to be not be ventilated property....

17 posted on 02/14/2012 10:19:26 AM PST by goat granny
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To: cartan

METHANE could be a cash crop.

Stuff is combustible. Could be used to heat the facilites or heat water..

18 posted on 02/14/2012 3:59:58 PM PST by TASMANIANRED (We kneel to no prince but the Prince of Peace)
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