Taipei - A swine breeder in south-west Taiwan has introduced potty-training at his farm to save water and reduce pollution, he said on Monday.
"Not only 95% of our pigs are able to go to toilet by themselves, but the faeces they produce can also be used for manufacturing into fertiliser," said Chang Chung-tou, owner of Shantung Animal Husbandry Farm in Yunlin county.
He said he started to train the hogs six years ago after receiving numerous complaints and fines over the foul odour and pollution caused by the pig waste.
"For every 40 pigs, I have set up a 4-by-6-metre specialised area as a toilet, and have built close to 600 such toilets on our farm," Chang said by telephone.
He places faeces and urine in a certain corner to attract the piglets and accustom them to the area when young. Each toilet is covered by slightly elevated iron board with small holes for urine to seep through.
"As pigs like clean environment, they tend to go to the toilets for elimination, and the faecal matter is then vacuumed by a special machine designed to suck the waste," Chang said.
He said the design has not only helped him save at least half of the water cost, but has also helped end the complaints and fines from environmental authorities.
Liao Chien-liang, an environmental technologist who designed the special vacuum machine, said the collected pig waste can be used as fertiliser and to produce biogas or even fish and pigeon feed after special manufacturing treatment.
Chang's example has prompted environmental officials to encourage other hog farmers to do the same to reduce pollution on the island.
Taiwan has about 6.5 million pigs, whose faeces have been cited as a source of river pollution. The administration plans to levy a water pollution fee on factories and farms starting in July.