A leaking manure storage lagoon is forcing Oregon State University to close its swine barn and sell off its 10 remaining hogs.
Dan Arp, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences, said groundwater or surface water is seeping into the lagoon, and manure could leak out if cracks aren’t sealed and drainage system repairs aren’t made. The initial cost estimate for repairs is $100,000, he said.
“As we go into rainy season, we can’t be in a situation where manure from the hog facility is spilling out of the holding pond,” Arp said.
Arp said the situation is reminiscent of problems at OSU’s dairy, where manure leaked into Oak Creek and forced the university to close the operation and sell off the herd. The facility has since been repaired, and the dairy reopened this year and is supplying milk to the student-run cheese manufacturing program.
The swine program, operating out of a barn that is at least 60 years old, was down to nine breeding females and one boar. Arp said arrangements are being made to sell them.
Arp said OSU hopes to return hogs to the animal sciences program at some point, but whether that will happen is an open question.
For years, the swine program has raised pigs for breeding, teaching and research purposes at OSU. They’ve been used for livestock evaluation and basic animal science courses, sold to 4-H and FFA members who raise pigs for county fair projects, and even entered in the Oregon State Fair by OSU students.
The state’s swine industry is relatively small, however. A 2012 livestock inventory showed Oregon had 12,500 hogs, compared to 1.2 million head of cattle, about 210,000 sheep and 41,000 goats, according to the state agriculture department.