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ECHO's Natural Farming Pig System is comprised of a deep-litter pig pen in which hogs are raised atop a one-meter deep layer of bedding comprised mostly of sawdust, rice husks and ground charcoal.  By excluding the rain and preventing excessive spillage of feed and water, the bedding remains minimally moist, offering pigs relief from the heat. The bedding is also great for pigs to burrow into when they are cold.  Microbes in the bedding (enhanced by periodic sprays of IMO solution) break down wastes which are incorporated into the litter by the rooting of the animals.  After eight to 12 months of use, the nutrient-rich litter can be removed for application as compost on the farm.

This component is based on the Natural Farming approach developed in East and Southeast Asia which focuses on harnessing the impact of beneficial microbes for enhancing both crop and animal production systems. Either commercially derived microbes (i.e. Effective Microorganisms - EM) or farm produced cultures  (Indigenous Microorganisms - IMO) are employed in these farming systems.

Beneficial microbes, such as lactic acid bacteria, help to:

  • Enhance soil-improving composts and natural fertilizers by accelerating the breakdown of organic matter in the soil and increasing plant access to nutrients
  • Strengthen crop defenses against various pathogens
  • Minimize and eliminate odors associated with livestock production
  • Produce fermented animal feed that can be made from local vegetation such as banana stalks

  1. 2015-01-01 One of the newest additions to the ECHO Global Farm is the Natural Farming Pig System located in the Tropical Lowlands area. This component is based on the Natural Farming approach developed in East and Southeast Asia which focuses on harnessing the impact of beneficial microbes for enhancing...
  2. 2016-05-17 While touring ECHO in Fort Myers, we saw this interesting way of raising pigs in a small space via a deep litter pig pen. Even if you don't have a big farm or yard, this would let you raise bacon. Best of all, there was no smell and you end up with a lot of compost. Great setup....
  3. ABSTRACT Producers and consumers perceive that group rearing of slaughter pigs in deep bedded hoop barns is more welfare-friendly for pigs and produces pork with more desirable eating quality compared to conventional systems. However, little research supports this perception. Our objectives in...
  4. Abstract,Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal SciencesJuly, 2017 Since the industrialization of swine production in the late 1900s, swine farms in the United States, as well as in Europe, have largely become consolidated. Pig farms became larger in size but fewer in number, with 91% of market...
  5. Abstract : Veterinary World, 2015 Aim: The objective of the study was to evaluate the effect of deep litter housing and fermented feed on carcass characteristics and meat quality of crossbred Hampshire pigs. Materials and Methods: Forty-eight weaned crossbred Hampshire piglets of 2 months age (24...
  6. ABSTRACT Deep litter systems represent low cost alternatives to raise growing-finishing pigs, reducing slurry accumulation, although pig’s thermal comfort may be negatively affected by the heat produced inside the litter. This study compared environmental and performance parameters for...
  7. Abstract Two experiments were conducted in tropical Malaysia to study the effects of keeping pigs on deep litter without washing on growth, behavior, pen hygiene and pig health. In Experiment I, forty-eight growing pigs were allocated to three treatments with 16 pigs per treatment and 8 pigs per...
  8. Abstract,Water Science and Technology, 1993 The traditional method of waste disposal employed by pig producers in Malaysia is washing wastes down with plenty of water. While this method cleans the pig pens and cools down the animals, it generates a lot of wastewaters which pollute the waterways...
  9. Natural Deep Bed Pig Farminguses indigenous micro-organisms (IMO's) to create and maintain a healthydeep bed litter flooring. It is these micro-organisms that will help break down fecal matter rapidly leaving you with a fertilizer rich material whilst ensure no smells or flies (an important...
  10. Deep Litter. In order to fulfill EPA regulations that require an impervious bottom to all waste handling facilities, there must be either a concrete slab or a thick (30 mil) plastic liner as the base of the building. Green waste, with a minimum depth of 4 feet, is then strategically layered to...
  11. The key to maintaining a no smell, no clean system is an inoculated deep litter floor that actively composts manure and safely processes toxins right under the pigs feet. The living floor keeps the pigs clean and healthy with no need to remove or worry about their manure. Pigs will naturally turn...
  12. Deep litter systems are living systems in which a thick layer of carbon-rich organic matter hosts a thriving microbial community which works to break down solid and liquid wastes from animals as they are produced. Such as system doesn't require regular cleaning out, and has the added benefit of...
  13. An on-farm demonstration found sawdust, peanut hulls and sorghum stubble, as well as barley straw, to be suitable bedding materials for pigs. It also found growth rates to be within expectations. Peanut hulls and sawdust provided the driest surface, though extra bedding can be added to reduce...
  14. Research has shown the average daily body weight gain, feed conversion ratio and survival rate of piglets raised in deep-litter pig pens to be equal or superior to those raised in conventional concrete floor pig houses (Sheen, 2005, Correa, 2009). There are also benefits for animal welfare – by...
  15. What started as a frustrating day for George Kahumoku, Jr., farm owner of Kealia Farms in South Kona, has turned into a technology that is gaining interest across the entire Pacific basin. In the extension profession, it is a joy to work with producers who we call the “early adopters”. These...
  16. Deep litteris an animal housing system, based on the repeated spreading ofstraworsawdustmaterial in indoor booths.[1]An initial layer of litter is spread for the animals to use for bedding material and todefecatein, and as the litter is soiled, new layers of litter are continuously added by the...
  17. 2018-02-22 ECHO’s Technical Response Unit (TRU) answers your technical questions. Below, ECHO Intern Gretchen Rops, responds to a question regarding pigs.