Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Mysterious Foam That Can Create Explosions on Midwestern Hog Farms

My friend and colleague Sean tipped me off to an article about a mysterious foam that grows in some hog farm manure pits, seen here in this remarkably disgusting photo. This foam traps methane gas, which can then explode. According to Brian Keirn, who wrote the report for (here), six farms have exploded since 2009. The effects of the foam, which is a problem on one out of four hog farms in the midwest, are clear, but why some farms develop the foam and others do not is still unclear. One theory traces the foam to the increasing use of distillers' grain in the pigs' diets, although antibiotic use, changes in water use, and genetic modifications to pigs themselves are all on the table as possible contributors.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Feral Pigs in New York State

The New York Times ran an article (here) on March 11, 2012 about the wild-living pig problem in New York's Champlain Valley. These pigs now occupy five of the state's sixty-two counties and appear to be thriving in this agricultural region. The article, by Lisa Foderaro, notes the fear that these animals might eventually reach Adirondack Park, where they could do tremendous damage to this wilderness area.

Much of the article concerns the difficulties involved in capturing these pigs, seen in this New York State Department of Environmental Conservation night-vision photo. The source of these animals is unknown, but it is likely that these wild-living pigs are a mix of domestic livestock or pet pigs that escaped or were released and Eurasian wild boars brought to the state as a game animal. In Pig I devote my concluding chapter to wild-living pigs, a growing problem throughout the United States, as marking the return of the repressed. Given what I've learned about wild-living pigs, I'm not all that optimistic about the long-term success of efforts to control these animals in rural, agricultural areas of New York.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

The Visibility and Invisibility of Pigs, Part One: Pigs in the City

I have contributed a blog post about the visibility and invisibility of pigs in the city to, the web resource of the Humane Resource Council. You can find a link to it here. I'll have a second part about the sites and sights of slaughter sometime around the first of April.