Pig poo probably problematic.

Pig
Photo credit: Dave King
Q:

I've been told I shouldn't be using pig poo in my vegetable garden. Is this true? I pen the pigs in an area, let them till it up and mix their poo and hay in, then I move them into a new area and plant the just vacated one with tomato plants, corn, root crops, lettuces, etc. I mulch over the dirt with hay. After the veggies are grown, I wash and cook them (most of them). Am I killing myself and my family by doing this? I thought I was doing good! The specific reasons to not use the pig poo were directed at the parasites they carry. If they are wormed, would that make their poo safe? But then I'd have to worry about the Ivermectin, wouldn't I?

- Columbia County, OR
A:

The method your describe is a great way to integrate animal and vegetable production and can help to foster long-term soil fertility. The concern is over potential disease pathogens from these pigs. The current USDA National Organic guidelines recommend waiting at least 120 days from the time animals leave an area to when vegetable crops are harvested from the area. If you are waiting this long, then there is a low chance of any potential disease problems. However, new federal guidelines through the Food Safety Modernization Act will likely increase the time frame to 9 months to decrease any potential disease problems. To be as safe as possible, you might consider this longer rotation and at a minimum you should wait at least 120 days from the time animals leave the pen until you harvest vegetables from the plot.

Weston Miller
Community and Urban Horticulture Faculty
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