Feces and urine, whether produced by humans, hogs , chickens, cows or cattle, is basically the same. Slight differences exist, but the contents of all of it requires careful processing for health and environmental reasons. In all animal waste, there is the presence of many dangerous pathogens, including viruses and bacteria, most all of which are harmful to human health. Other harmful items such as copper in hog waste and arsenic in some of the poultry waste, are also present. Very dangerous gasses are also discharged. They include, among others, ammonia, methane and hydrogen sulfide. Two of these gasses, ammonia and hydrogen sulfide produce horrific odors so menacing that people report being overcome and driven to the ground. Methane is a odorless killer. Quite a few deaths have been attributed to it and hydrogen sulfide for owners and workers at hog facilities. All these gasses can travel through the air for many miles.
Treating and properly neutralizing animal waste, regardless of its source, was developed more than 100 years ago. It is called a waste water treatment or sewer plant. The technology at these plants has advanced to the point where all harmful contents of the waste can be removed or neutralized. This is a very expensive effort. Depending on the size of population, these plants can cost many millions of dollars to construct. They are also expensive to operate. However, they are a requirement for the treatment of human waste of people living in cities, towns and large urban developments. People living in undeveloped rural areas can appropriately use underground septic tanks and drain fields to dispose of their waste. This on site processing is primitive and comes with some serious limitations that can only be overcome through strict maintenance of the system.
The bottom line is that for farm animals or human waste, the process is the basically the same. When people leave the farm and rural areas and join together in a city environment, a waste water/sewer plant becomes a requirement. The same is true for hogs, chickens and other factory farm animals. When farm animals are spread out throughout the country in small numbers, their waste is widely dispersed and can be used on fields as fertilizer. However, when these animals are heavily concentrated in city like environments, as they are here in eastern North Carolina, the requirement for high tech treatment of their waste becomes a requirement. Unfortunately, the animal industry has failed to accept this obligation and continues to operate what is best described as an "outhouse" system for waste disposal. This system, as described in other pages of this website, involves nothing more than collection, storage and dumping on fields.
POULTRY WASTE--Today, throughout eastern North Carolina, poultry waste is removed from inside the confinement buildings a few times each year. As litter, it is stored openly in fields while awaiting application to fields. It is illegal to openly store poultry fecal waste for more than 14 days. If left for more than 14 days the few regulations that exist require it be covered. Unfortunately, all too often, it is left in fields uncovered and exposed to the elements for many weeks and sometime months. As the rain water peculates through the fecal piles, it forms a toxic leach-ate at the bottom. This toxic leach-ate is then capable of running offsite and into local waterways. During the times poultry waste is applied to fields with spreaders, it is often picked up by the wind and blown offsite and into surrounding waterways and communities. Poultry waste gets its horrific odor from ammonia and hydrogen sulfide gasses that are present. As previously stated, these gasses are extremely harmful. For pictures and video of poultry waste storage and application, please see the Home and Gallery pages of this website.
HOG WASTE--As previously stated on this website, according to Dr. Mark Sobsey (UNC Chapel Hill, NC) who compared the production of fecal matter produced by people to that from hogs, he determined that on average a hog produces 10 times the feces of a human each day. There are somewhere between 9 and 10 million hogs in North Carolina. According to Dr. Sobsey's study, hogs in North Carolina are producing the equivalent fecal waste of about 1/3 the US population each day. This waste is pushed under the floor by the hogs as they walk about on slatted concrete surfaces inside the hog confinement buildings. There it is collected and discharged to an earthen pit called a lagoon. This pit is little more than a cesspool. This cesspool or lagoon must be sufficient to hold 180 days of hog waste for every hog on site. As these pits fill up, the waste is pumped out to fields where it is sprayed through the air onto farm fields. These farm fields are most often heavily ditched and, in many cases, have underground drain pipes to lower the water table by discharging liquids offsite from the fields to nearby waterways.
There are solutions
1. Remove the heavily concentrated hogs, chickens and turkeys from the heavily concentrated cities of confined animal feeding operations (factory farms) and spread them back out across the United States where the land can handle the waste as a fertilizer. This is how hogs were raised by real family farmers before the industry replaced them. Traditional family farmers are most capable of handling this redistribution. How do we know that? According to the US Department of Agriculture, the number of hogs in the US inventory is about the same today (only slightly increased) above what it was in 1915. The only significant difference is that hogs go to market more quickly.
2. Install waste water/sewer plants currently in use for the treatment of human feces and urine. The animal industry is extremely profitable. Most hogs in North Carolina are owned by the Chinese based Corporation, WH Group. The poultry industry is controlled by only a handful of major corporations. Both industries have the ability to subsidize over time the installation of high-tech waste water/sewer treatment plants at all operations in use in NC and across America.
3. Seriously reduce the consumption of animal meat products. Total abstinence is also viable. Vegans and vegetarians have made this transition and have documented it as a healthier human diet.
4. Rapidly develop plant based meat substitutes. This is already a rapidly growing industry that can easily be used replace the use of animals as a meat source. Beyond Beef, Impossible Foods and many other brands are currently available as plant based meat substitutes. The Impossible Burger (available at Burger King) has been reported as a huge success.
5. Meat produced from the growth of animal cells is being developed and may be generally available to the public in grocery stores as early as 2025. This is a cell reproductive method where cells are grown into genuine meat products such as ham, bacon, chicken and beef. No animals factories, or even family farms, are necessary and no animals are slaughter in the process. Sounds futuristic, but it's not. It is already happening on a very small scale.