Go with the Flow
We can simplify the work involved with confined animals by planning our barns and pens to facilitate manure handling. Sometimes this is as simple as making doorways and gates wide enough to accommodate a wheelbarrow or garden cart or building pens with removable sides. Or it might be designing a holding area for ruminants that can double as a pig pen. After the ruminants move on, turn in the pigs and let them root to aerate bedding pack and convert it into compost.
Flow is another consideration. Because manure and soiled bedding from poultry and ruminants (cows, sheep and goats) can be used as food and bedding for pigs, arranging your livestock holding facilities so that wastes can be passed easily into the pig pen makes for one-step manure handling.
On our farm, cows or sheep confined for calving, lambing or weather issues are penned right next to the pigs. Daily, rejected hay from the ruminants’ manger becomes their bedding; their soiled bedding is forked over the fence into the pig pen. Likewise, the poultry brooder is located just west of the pig pen, making it easy to turn accumulated chick litter into pig food. What the pigs don’t eat, they combine with their own manure, urine, and bedding, giving a biological boost to this future soil amendment.