Manure Pit Safety

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Manure Pit Safety


Don Wick


Leon Sheets, Pig Farmer, Iowa




Don Wick:  00:01  From the Pork Checkoff in Des Moines Iowa it’s Pork Pod! Pork Pod a look at the hot topics in today’s pork industry. The Pork Checkoff is working for you through various forms of research, promotion and consumer information projects. This is Don Wick speaking on behalf of the Pork Checkoff and today our guest is Iowa pig farmer Leon Sheets. We are so focused on safety especially at this time of year when we’re agitating pits or cleaning out the manure facilities. It’s really timely to be having this message on farm safety.

Leon Sheets:  00:33  It happens with agitating, you get the barns but some of this we’ve been finding that in my case we were washing. And several of these were back in May that the barns were OK. One was in December one was in January when these things are going. So it’s not correlated to just your pumping, it’s going to get them there but pumping is the time when you’re really moving and stirring stuff up and take precautions if you do have the foaming that you’ve got a whole series of gases that now become stirred up, so.

Don Wick:  01:06  It just serves as a reminder of what we got to be cautious when we’re in there.

Leon Sheets:  01:10  It’s got to be, it’s got to be twice a year and kind of all year round. I know several farms have instituted some protocols before they let the staff wash and I have in my farms to get some amount of ventilation cranked up before you do that just to remove all of that and there doesn’t have to be foaming but just in case.

Don Wick:  01:30  Interesting. Let’s talk about making sure that those pigs are healthy. We’ve got to make sure that our people are healthy too.

Leon Sheets:  01:36  Keeping our people safe yeah and safe and healthy. Yeah keeping our people safe in there is that it can happen. And I’m aware of some of that those flash fires have had pigs there, some of them they’ve been empty barns. Some of those flash fires will happen when people didn’t perform in maintenance that sparks in the welder or the torch downstairs and even under the best one I’m aware of one that they had a trained firefighter there and they had blankets and stuff laid back out and stuff and triggered it. And they were right in there. The same thing is that you know (inaudible)  So yeah it’s happening and being safe is that health is one but being safe. A safe for the pigs but also safe for the for the people in the barn.

Don Wick:  02:19  It’s hard because we don’t those gases we don’t you don’t see I you don’t really know what you’re dealing with.

Leon Sheets:  02:23  No you don’t see, and some of that you are in the barn every day and you see the foam down below. You know it’s there but some of those like mine just late in the afternoon I had the soakers going. The only reason I stopped, we’d emptied the barn that morning. I stopped to check the soakers and on the way out, I kind of turned on my heels and thought, I’m just going to get the washer, the washer was right, there’s a wand there hooked up. I’m just going to get the floor wet because I’m going to work in this area tomorrow. And you know it is going to be one of those two minute projects just to get the floor what I’m done out of there. And that’s all it took, that all it took was just that one to two minutes.

Don Wick:  03:01  So where should producers go for more information if they’re looking for some safety reminders here.

Leon Sheets:  03:10  The Universities, The National Pork Board at should have that up on site. Your extension should have the bulletins or the safeties on the recommendations when hand material.

Don Wick:  03:10  Are we missing anything we should focus on here?

Leon Sheets:  03:24  You know any time you’re doing something above the normal, is crank up the ventilation get it get back up above normal and really best manage the practices. You don’t you leave the minimum on when the barn empty you don’t turn it off. You keep some air going on because you may need to re-enter the barn and it doesn’t take long for some of those to build back up to make it unsafe to walk over to the controllers and turn the fans back on.  I’m aware of a couple instances they never made it the controllers it was that bad. just like turning the fans on so you keep the momentum on it. Any event that you’re going to do anything out of the ordinary of more than just a walk in the barn is go ahead and get the minimums cranked up. I don’t care if it’s 20 below out. Get the fans cranked up and let the heaters run a little bit if you need to be working in the barns cold that you’ve got to have some air movement if you’re going to do anything else and just walk into a bar and you’re going to stir anything down below the slats get plenty of air movement before you start that procedure.

Leon Sheets:  04:26  And when we get in the fall, then of course the protocols were out that get any possible ignition switches off when you are staring at to get the heaters turned off, get the pilot blown out, turn the feed lines off because just some of those little sparks from inside your lights which are your feelings coming on for a little bit may be enough to start that spark. So anything that may create a spark is need to be off when you’re pumping.

Don Wick:  04:54  Thanks to you for listening to this edition of Pork Pod. For more information on this topic or the Pork Checkoff itself visit