Planet Earth

Potty Trained Piggies Help Keep Taiwanese Rivers Clean

DiscoblogBy Jennifer WelshJan 6, 2011 4:38 PM

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Toddlers can learn, cats can be taught--so why not take the next step and potty-train our livestock? Taiwan's Environmental Protection Administration is encouraging its pig farmers to do just that with the countries' six million pigs. The move will clean up the farms and help prevent water pollution, they say. To keep the pig waste from flowing into the rivers (and to save water on cleaning up farms), the pigs are trained to relieve themselves in a trough. The "toilets" are smeared with feces and urine to attract the pigs--kinda like that spot on the carpet where the dog keeps relieving itself. All it took to start the porcine potty-training revolution was one genius farmer in 2009 trying to avoid the Taiwanese government's "water pollution fee." He noticed the difference immediately, he told the Mail and Guardian Online:

"The pig toilets on my farm help me collect about 95% of all pig waste, making cleaning much, much easier," Chang Chung-tou, a pig farmer in Yunlin county, said.

After a trial of 10,000 pigs by Chung-tou and others in 2009, the Taiwanese EPA recently released a report detailing their findings, and recommending all pig farmers jump on the potty-training bandwagon. TreeHugger

sums up their findings:

The Taiwanese EPA in their most recent announcement suggest that aside from [reducing] the amount of waste water by up to 80% pig farms were also cleaner and less smelly, and additionally the trotter toilets helped reduce illness among the pigs and boosted their fertility by 20%.

Agricultural waste is a major environmental concern--the most notorious pig farm accident occurred in North Carolina in 1995

, when the dike around a lagoon of pig waste collapsed, spilling 25 million gallons of waste across the landscape. And while we applaud the potty-training initiative, we wonder if it could be taken further: If the farmers were really green they could use this poop to power their farming operations, their cars

, or even satellites

! Related Content: Discoblog: This Poop Mobile Could Get All Its Energy From 70 Homes’ Worth of Methane

Discoblog: In the Glorious Future, Could Space Travel Be Poop-Powered?

80beats: Study: Industrial-Scale Farming Prevented a Greenhouse Gas Blast

DISCOVER: Curb your Cat, Save a Sea Otter

DISCOVER: Vertical Farms: High Hopes for Feeding the Future

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Image: Flickr/Tambako the Jaguar

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