The water we drinkTaiwan wants pigs potty-trained to curb pollution

Published 10 January 2011

The Taiwanese government reports that experiments in potty-training pigs proved successful: a breeder of 10,000 pigs has established special pig “toilets” on the farm; the toilets were smeared with feces and urine to attract the pigs; within weeks, 95 percent of all pig waste was collected in the toilets, making the farm — as well as nearby rivers and fields — much cleaner; additional benefits: the cleaner farm helped reduce illness among the pigs and boosted their fertility by 20 percent

Taiwan’s environmental authorities said last week that they are planning to promote potty training for pigs to help curb water and waste pollution.

The Environmental Protection Administration made the pledge following the success of a pig farm in southern Taiwan, where the breeder started to potty-train his 10,000 pigs in late 2009, it said in a statement.

A 2009 news report has Chang Chung-tou, a pig farmer in Yunlin county, saying, “The pig toilets on my farm help me collect about 95% of all pig waste, making cleaning much, much easier.”

AFP reports that to keep his animals from defecating in nearby rivers, the breeder has established special “toilets” smeared with feces and urine to attract the pigs, it said.

This reduced the amount of waste water by up to 80 percent. As well as making the farm cleaner and less smelly, it also helped reduce illness among the pigs and boosted their fertility by 20 percent, it added.

Taiwan has about six million pigs, most of them raised on farms in the centre and the south of the island.

Waste from livestock farms is among the main complaints about water pollution received by the administration. In his book, Beyond Beef, Jeremy Rivkin quotes food geographers’ estimates that cattle and livestock account for twice the amount of pollutants as comes from all U.S. industrial sources. Harvey Diamond’s book Your Heart, Your Planet, says that “every second 250,00 pounds (113 tons) of excrement are produce from livestock in the USA.”