ECHO’s Technical Response Unit (TRU) answers your technical questions. Below, ECHO Intern Gretchen Rops, responds to a question regarding pigs.
Q. I recently attended your February Tropical Agriculture Development (TAD) training. I am back in the Amazon Basin working with unreached tribes. I need to understand pig farming especially your impressive pig composting system.
A. In his book Natural Farming, Arnat Tancho, presents the deep litter pig raising system used at ECHO. This consists of a built up pen, about three to four feet, with front-end removable cement slabs. This concept works with a sturdy pen with room for organic matter buildup (does not need to be 3 feet).
At ECHO, sawdust is the primary bedding material; however, any available similar mater will work. We feed our pigs cut and carry forages of which the un-eaten material becomes part of the bedding/organic matter. Start out with a thick layer of organic material; add a thin layer of sawdust (1-2 inches) when the bedding gets too wet. Every other week spray microorganisms to speed up composting and reduce smell. We use an indigenous microorganism (IMO) mixture made at the farm. Composting occurs when there is sufficient organic matter to mix with the manure.
Consider your soil type. In our Florida location, our pig compost has a high pH level, which is not the case in Southeast Asia, where the system was developed, and the soils are very acidic.
In regards to feed, pigs can handle a wide variety of food sources. The Natural Farming book contains pig feed suggestions/recipes. On the farm, we feed mostly leafy forages with a small amount of purchased commercial feed, along with food scraps, rotting fruit, etc. when it is available. Aim to provide adequate protein.
Visit ECHOcommunity.org for additional resources related to Natural Farming techniques that employ the positive effect of microorganisms:
- Farm-Generated Feed: Hog feed Production
- Raising Pigs on Moringa Leaves – ECHO Development Notes #51
- The English Natural Farming edition is 340 pages and includes color photos and educational graphics as well as tables that summarizes information. To order visit ECHO Bookstore.
- See more resources on the Deep Litter System