Nutrient management practices among swine operations of various sizes

Wayne J. Hassinger II Center for Animal Health and Productivity, New Bolton Center, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Kennett Square, PA 19348.
Present address is Copake Veterinary Hospital, PO Box 80, Copake Falls, NY 12517.

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Kelly A. Monahan Center for Animal Health and Productivity, New Bolton Center, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Kennett Square, PA 19348.
Present address is the Department of Farm Animal Health and Resource Management, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27606.

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Tiffany L. Scanlon Center for Animal Health and Productivity, New Bolton Center, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Kennett Square, PA 19348.

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Thomas D. Parsons Center for Animal Health and Productivity, New Bolton Center, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Kennett Square, PA 19348.

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Abstract

Objective—To determine feeding, cropping, and manure-handling practices of swine operations of various sizes.

Design—Producer survey.

Sample Population—85 sow units and 132 finish floors.

Procedure—Swine producers were surveyed by mail and during farm visits for information regarding herd characteristics and management practices, with emphasis on the 3 components of the nutrient cycle: cropping, feeding and nutrition, and manure handling. Farms were categorized by operation type as sow units or finish floors and, subsequently, stratified by size as small sow units (< 600 head), large sow units (≥ 600 head), small finish floors (< 2,000 head), and large finish floors (≥ 2,000 head).

Results—Large sow units and large finish floors were approximately twice as likely to use environmentally sound nutrient management practices as small sow units or small finish floors. These large operations were more likely to use progressive feeding practices, to be aware of their nutrient flows, and to be capable of using these nutrients properly.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—There is a need for greater environmental awareness among all swine producers, especially among small producers. This provides a possible growth area for large-animal veterinary consultants. Economy of scale and increased governmental regulations allow large farms to use environmentally sound practices. Thus, large swine farms are not necessarily harmful to the environment. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000;217:1526–1530)

Abstract

Objective—To determine feeding, cropping, and manure-handling practices of swine operations of various sizes.

Design—Producer survey.

Sample Population—85 sow units and 132 finish floors.

Procedure—Swine producers were surveyed by mail and during farm visits for information regarding herd characteristics and management practices, with emphasis on the 3 components of the nutrient cycle: cropping, feeding and nutrition, and manure handling. Farms were categorized by operation type as sow units or finish floors and, subsequently, stratified by size as small sow units (< 600 head), large sow units (≥ 600 head), small finish floors (< 2,000 head), and large finish floors (≥ 2,000 head).

Results—Large sow units and large finish floors were approximately twice as likely to use environmentally sound nutrient management practices as small sow units or small finish floors. These large operations were more likely to use progressive feeding practices, to be aware of their nutrient flows, and to be capable of using these nutrients properly.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—There is a need for greater environmental awareness among all swine producers, especially among small producers. This provides a possible growth area for large-animal veterinary consultants. Economy of scale and increased governmental regulations allow large farms to use environmentally sound practices. Thus, large swine farms are not necessarily harmful to the environment. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000;217:1526–1530)

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