We’re far enough along with harvest that many producers have begun pumping manure pits. Yesterday I received a call regarding 30 pigs that died over the weekend during pumping and last night an email about rumors of increased pig deaths this year.

Over the past few years I’ve been involved in several situations where pigs died during pumping. The primary cause of death is a sudden spike of hydrogen sulfide gas into the pig zone. Hydrogen sulfide kills rapidly and because of this danger the advice to animal caregivers is NEVER rush into a barn to try and save pigs. If pigs died there is a high risk of danger to caregivers also.

The 30 pigs that died over the weekend were in a curtain barn during the time of day when there was a pretty stiff breeze and the curtains were down. While the caller didn’t know the location in the barn where the pigs died, I’m willing to bet it was in 1-2 pens in a corner of the barn where there was poor air circulation due to the direction of the wind.