Raising Chickens the Natural Farming Way

Natural Farming with Indigenous Microorganisms is a method of organic farming utilizing cheap and readily available ingredients and the microbes or mycorrhizae from your own locale or farm. The entire country of South Korea has embraced this system of farming as the centerpiece for their agricultural policy. Mr. Cho, the founder, was ignored or scoffed at for years, but, after seeing the results of several large scale experiments, he has received various honors, and is now teaching over 300 agricultural agents in Korea. One of his appointments was to the UNDP, as an expert advisor with the goal of reducing the number of poor people worldwide by half. The philosophy behind Natural Farming is to return to the farmers their natural sovereignty and relationship with nature. Observation of the various stages of plant growth is important, as well as recognition of each plants inherent qualities. One of Mr. Cho's mentors was a farmer “full of love and respect for life.” My favorite quote from Mr. Cho is, “A farmer should have parental love towards his crop and livestock. This is a heart of a true farmer…” At the same time, farmers should be able to make a living from their work. Farmers in Korea are making six figure incomes, raising chickens for egg production, raising apples, growing strawberries and more.

Natural Farming is a comprehensive system, in that almost every plant's and animal's need is met by inputs produced on the farm. Chickens are raised very differently from conventional poultry farming, so planning for their habitat and feeding should begin prior to getting them. If you don't have this opportunity, their coops could be retrofitted later. They are raised, “to suit the habits, instincts and behaviors of the chickens.”

The chicken coop has a dirt floor which is 7 cm deep in litter and straw. This straw is sprayed with lactic acid bacteria* and IMO 3 to kickstart the microbial activity. During dry spells the floor should be lightly sprayed with water weekly. The microorganisms on the floor will break down the chicken feces and there will be virtually no smell. You can leave the same bedding in place for 10 – 20 years or remove as needed for fertilizer, leaving half of it in to continue the cycle. Fermentation occurs in the bedding, providing warmth, even in the winter. If a concrete floor is needed to meet health inspector's requirements, put the bedding on top of it.

The chicken coop has a window in the roof to let natural sunlight fall on one-third of the floor area. This will disinfect the floor naturally and help the microorganisms to grow. The roof is galvanized metal, which becomes hot, heating the coop. This hot air escapes through the window and the air is refreshed from the open walls. The walls are net, with a curtain to control air flow and make it rainproof. It needs to stay dry.

Brooder boxes for newborn chicks are small. By the 2nd day the brooder box is partitioned into two boxes, with a curtain or cloth the chicks brush under as they pass through, which feels like the mother's feathers, calming them. Compost can be put under the box at a depth of 1 to 2 meters during cold weather to provide some natural heat. An aeration pipe underneath of the compost provides more air flow. In Natural Farming heating is not provided until the temperatures drop considerably. Chickens will develop short, dense hair and resistance towards cold. The box should have a soft floor; in Korea they use rice hulls. This box is later divided into three rooms, so that the chicks rest in one room, feed in the next and water in the last. This provides exercise for the chicks also.

Water if provided for the chickens through horizontally laid PVC pipes with individual holes drilled into it. Water pipes are sized according to the size of the chicks. Until day 30, they get a 30 mm PVC pipe with holes drilled every few inches. After that, a 50 mm PVC pipe is used with larger holes. The last pipe is a 100 mm PVC pipe with larger holes. The water in the pipe should be flowing and fresh. The individual holes should be tilted slightly away from the chicks so that extra water droplets are wiped against the pipe, instead of falling onto the chick's chest. This pipe system assures that there will always be a spot for a chick to get water, relieving crowding, a stress factor for them.

The feeder boxes are similarly graduated to suit the size of the chicks. Before their 30th day the feeders are 90 cm long and 6 cm high in the back, and 3 cm in the front. This feeder is raised off the ground after the 30th day, is 90 cm long and 15 cm deep. It is a deep V shape to allow access from both sides. The perches for the chicks should be slightly arched. The feeders should be aligned between the perch and the water pipe.

The last aspect of raising chicks is the nesting box, which the chicks should be put into from a young age so they are used to it. At first it can be brightly lit, so the hens are not afraid, then gradually darken it with a curtain.

This set up can be expanded exponentially so that one farmer can care for up to 5,000 chickens, in a gentle, healthy, humane way.

One important aspect of raising healthy chicks is feeding the freshly hatched chicks whole brown rice grains in an unlimited supply. After three days bamboo leaves are added. Other fibrous greens could be substituted. On day 50, rice husks are added, gradually making up 20-25% of the total feed for the next six months. Chicks fed this way develop a strong digestive system and long intestines. A homemade mix of bran, wild grass (chopped up), food waste and soil or sawdust can be fed at this point also. This homemade feed should be adjusted to be sure there is a nutritional balance, including oyster or clam shells for meat and calcium. Feed is given to the chicks only once a day, two hours before sunset. If rice husks aren't available, look for wheat bran or other meal. This should be sufficient to maintain a steady laying rate for a long, productive period: twice as long as conventional methods.

There should be no pollution, no smell, no flies, no wastewater, disease or cleaning needed. The egg quality will be superior with super sturdy yokes.

*Lactic acid bacteria recipe: Lactic acid bacteria are anaerobic microorganisms that have a low Ph of 2. They can survive with or without oxygen and withstand high temperatures. They are very effective in improving soil aeration and dissolve chelates or minerals in the soil, freeing them up for plants to absorb. When plants absorb lactic acid it increases their disease and rain tolerance.

To make lactic acid, first wash rice and save the water. Take this water and fill a jar 20 cm with it. Cover it with paper to keep bugs out and let it sit in a dark spot for a week, preferably in an opaque container. It will start to give off a sour smell when it's done. Next, pour off the rice water and add the rice water to milk, ideally raw milk, at a 10:1 ratio The lactic acid bacteria will grow vigorously in the milk. In 5-7 days the milk will have separated into the milk solids and whey. Starch, protein and fat will float on the top of the liquid which remains at the bottom. Remove the floating substance and save the liquid: this is the lactic acid bacteria. It can be stored in a refrigerator or mixed with equal parts brown sugar and stored at room temperature.

This lactic acid bacteria (LAB, in Natural Farming parlance), is diluted 1,000 times. It can be combined with IMO's, which are mostly aerobic, and sprayed on fields. Use less LAB in the later stages of fruiting It is also used in a 3% concentration in compost, livestock water and to water plants. It is an important component of natural farming and easy to make and have on hand.

Cited: Cho Han Kyu's Natural Farming, Janong Natural Farming Institute, 209-2 Ungok-n, Cheongan-myeon, Goesan-gun, Chungbuk, Republic of Korea. www.janong.com.


Korean Natural Farming with Pigs

Pigs you gotta love 'em. Or hate them. Kama-puaâ'a was a pig-god to old Hawaiians, associated with Lono, the god of agriculture, and also was a lover of Pele. He was a shape shifter, capable of appearing as a handsome young man or randy, rascally hog with super powers of fertility. The epic story of Kama-puaâ'a is a wonderful example of ancient Hawaiianâ's oral mythology and literature. Pigs were a special food for ancient Hawaiians and are still the centerpiece of a baby luau or graduation imu. Pigs can also be a voracious pest that devours a field of taro or pineapples in a night. One of their favorite foods is earthworms (protein-rich snacks) and they'll turn over your yard or field to get to them. And their smell! Brace yourself! Right? Wellâ'no more. Pigs may once again get the respect they deserve. Korean Natural Farming methods; with piggeries have been used for over 40 years and with these simple methods pigs can be raised in a confined area, with virtually no smell and no flies.

Inspired by a visit to an odorless, fly-free piggery in Korea, Mike DuPonte, who is the Animal Specialist with CTHAR Cooperative Extension Service in Hilo, Hawaii, came home started a Korean Natural Farming (KNF) piggery. Mike was well versed in bureaucratic regulations and delays, and worked with the Department of Health for two years just to get his building permit. This involved many tests to see if the deep litter had any seepage or waste run-off, which it didn't, not even a drop. Because of Mike's efforts, the USDA has recognized KNF piggery methods as, a Best Management Practices. It also complies with the EPAA's new, stricter, livestock operation regulations. This is a real milestone and has gotten attention from people in Hawaii and across the nation.  Many piggeries on the island, small and large, are using indigenous microorganisms to immediately abate the smells and raise healthier, happier pigs.

Mike has just four pigs, two boars and two sows, and one litter of eight piglets, in his model piggery, the piggery he built to get USDA recognition. He is now building a larger facility, which will house 30 pigs, next to the original building. KNF uses waste management technology that addresses odor and flies, and results in stress-free, contented pigs, that dig and root in the deep litter. The piggery uses self-collected indigenous microorganisms to inoculate the litter, which is basically deep green waste. The building is strategically positioned to benefit from the sun's drying and heating, to promote aerobic conditions in the litter. The building also has 10' walls and a 14' vented roof, which allows the trade winds to cool the building and release heat from the microbial fermentation in the litter.

The first facility was required to have a concrete slab, but the new building will only be required to have a 40 ml plastic liner at the base. This is a small victory in itself, because of the high cost of pouring a large cement floor. Hawaii, by the way, is the only place in the United States, so far, that doesn't require a concrete floor. The bottom layer of the pen has bio-char mixed with cinders. Next a layer of logs, at least two inches in diameter, cover the floor completely. These logs can be as large as you like and be touching each other. The next layer is the green waste, layered with banana leaves or coconut fronds in Hawaii. A few weeks before the pigs are introduced, a thin layer of IMO #4 is spread lightly across the green waste, one pound for every 50 square feet.  *Lactic acid bacteria (LAB), diluted at a 1:1000 ratio, is sprayed several times over the first 2-3 weeks. A slight yeasty smell indicates the microbes have been activated and the pen is ready for use. If necessary the LAB can be used to spot check any smelly spots in the pens, but it is generally not needed. Heavy logs are placed on top of the green waste for the pig's rooting pleasure and to facilitate IMO formation. Boars, especially, like to dig, and the logs may need to be periodically replaced. These logs also keep the pigs from digging to the bottom of the pen. The charcoal and logs provides aeration and food for the microbes.

This set-up is virtually carefree, it stays in an aerobic state and never needs to be cleaned out. Every time the pigs urinate or defecate, the microorganisms kick in to immediately digest the waste. The pigs get their water from a nipple and their feed goes into a small trough. The litter is slightly acidic, 6.5 pH, which flies don't like; and it also stays dry, too dry for flies. Each adult pig gets a 17 square foot pen, instead of 8 square feet, which is the usual. Piglets can be raised to wean-off size in the pen with the mother.

Mike has had his pigs for 4 and half years now and has never cleaned out the pens once. Pigs will eat some of the green waste, so the litter doesn't build up, but rather, goes down, and needs to be reloaded with green waste every 7-8 months or when the log layer becomes exposed, but not inoculated again. I witnessed no flies in the pen or building and, amazingly, no smell. The pens were totally clean – no visible excrement. As soon as the excrement touches the inoculated green waste, the IMO's kick in to digest it. Pigs will habitually defecate in one spot. Their excrement shouldn’t stink normally, unless they have an unbalanced diet or are on concrete floors, which is an unnatural environment for them. KNF mimics their natural environment in every way possible, resulting in mellow, un-stressed pigs.

Mike feeds his pigs off-grade papaya, sweet potato, guinea grass, banana stumps and a little grain. Macadamia nut shells are available for litter on the Big Island, but Mike doesn't use these, because the pig's urine wouldn't soak into it, the shells are too hard. And the high oil content of the shells may cause problems spread on the fields.

The new building will have hollow-tile concrete walls, with the pens separated by wire fencing. Two inch plastic tubing on the bottom provides extra aeration. A raised walkway will facilitate easy access to the pig's troughs. This design is scale-able, you could have one pig or 1,000. KNF animal husbandry methods can be used with other livestock also. For chickens, you only put down a 3' layer of green waste and follow a similar protocol. For cattle and horses, you put down a 1' layer, but their pens need to be cleaned out every week, because of the quantity and volume of their excrement.

Starting in 1965, Master Han Kyu Cho of South Korea perfected these methods with his colleagues. KNF livestock facilities have been built across Asia, in the Philippines, China, Thailand and Vietnam. Most of the Chinese army now raise their pigs using these methods. These practices need to be taught and shared across the globe, especially in huge cities like Cairo, Egypt, where people keep swine to help consume their waste, which would otherwise build up in the city streets. These city pigs can become a health nuisance because of flies and smells and contribute to the spread of diseases. Confined Animal Feedlots can also be re-structured and re-purposed using KNF methods to mitigate the enormous environmental and public health threat they pose now. KNF is an easy and available alternative to these destructive industrial practices.

For more information on Natural piggeries and Korean Natural Farming methods, go to www.cthar.hawaii.edu, or www.naturalfarminghawaii.net

Jackie Prell

*Lactic Acid Bacteria

To make lactic acid, first wash rice and save the water. Take this water and fill a jar 20 cm with it. Cover it with paper to keep bugs out and let it sit in a dark spot for a week, preferably in an opaque container. It will start to give off a sour smell when it's done. Next, pour off the rice water and add the rice water to milk, ideally raw milk, at a 10:1 ratio The lactic acid bacteria will grow vigorously in the milk. In 5-7 days the milk will have separated into the milk solids and whey. Starch, protein and fat will float on the top of the liquid, which remains at the bottom. Remove the floating substance and save the liquid: this is the lactic acid bacteria. It can be stored in a refrigerator or mixed with equal parts brown sugar and stored at room temperature.

This lactic acid bacteria (LAB, in Natural Farming parlance), is diluted 1,000 times. It can be combined with IMO’s, which are mostly aerobic, and sprayed on fields.

A Natural Farming Primer

A Natural Farming Primer

A Natural Farming Primer

What if the best fertilizer was under your feet? What if you could make a product similar to EM and Bokashi simply and cheaply? Well, you can. They've been doing it in South Korea for decades and we have been fortunate to learn the basics here in Hawaii. Four years ago we bought a farm on the Big Island with soil blasted for 70 plus years with herbicides, fungicides, and arsenic: the usual arsenal of chemicals used by ginger, sweet potato and sugarcane growers. We were excited to be on land with soil, not just lava rock, common on the Big Island, but were immediately dismayed to see and feel the soil close-up: dry, lifeless powder, not a worm to be found. Our first crops struggled against weeds and pests. Then, a year and a half ago we were introduced to Natural Farming with Indigenous Microorganisms (IMO's) and we are seeing amazing improvements in our soil structure and plant health. Where we put down our homemade, mycorrhizae-rich, “fertility drug” as my husband calls it, the soil regains it’s loaminess, tilth and structure, and the earthworms come in droves.

Natural Farming with IMO's is a distinctive approach to organic farming that is practiced successfully in over 30 countries, in home gardens and on a commercial scale. Thanks to Mr. Han Kyu Cho who formulated and fine-tuned these practices for 40 years and has trained over 18,000 people at the Janong Natural Farming Institute (janonglove.com). And thanks to our wonderful Dr. Hoon Park, who brought Natural Farming to Hawaii. Dr. Park was in South Korea doing missionary work and noticed commercial piggeries with virtually no smell that were using Natural Farming methods. He learned about Natural Farming and realized that this was a practice that could eliminate hunger and poverty in extremely poor parts of the world. He came back to Hawaii, his home, and began giving classes for free.

Natural Farming is unique in that it is not meant to be commercialized, but rather practiced by farmers, with cheap, easily available ingredients, and microbes or mycorrhizae indigenous to each locale or farm. These microorganisms are 1) cultured in a simple wooden box of rice, 2) mixed with brown sugar and stored in a crock, 3)  further propagated on rice bran or wheat mill run, 4) mixed with soil and cultured again. This is then  mixed with 5) compost, or added to potting soil or spread on beds before planting. The entire process takes 3 to 4 weeks. A complete guide to making this input can be found by following a link on our club's website, localgarden.us.

Other inputs and sprays are made from fermented plant juices, made from the tips of growing plants mixed with brown sugar. There are also recipes for water soluble calcium made from eggshells, fish amino acid made from fish waste, lactic acid bacteria, and insect attractants made from  rice wine. There is also water-soluble calcium phosphate made from animal bones and vinegar and a seed soak solution. There are half dozen more inputs that can be made simply and easily at home, which are  used according to the nutritive/growth cycle of the plants. Many of these inputs are made from things that would otherwise just be thrown away. We get fish waste from the local fish market, which the market would have to pay to dispose of otherwise. The fish amino acids is simply fresh fish waste, de-boned and packed into a container with brown sugar and fermented for a few months.

Several University of Hawaii at Hilo Community College professors have been learning Natural Farming and practicing it, as well as going to South Korea to observe it firsthand. David Ikeda, a professor at HCC teaches basic Natural Farming classes and another professor,  Michael DuPonte, has helped to establish a piggery in Mountain View  using Natural Farming methods and feed. The pig's excrement is so odorless, clean and dry, that you literally don't even have to clean it out. Methods for raising chickens are similar with healthier, happier chickens, less work and no smell. Their bedding can remain in place for 10-20 years or just be pulled out when it's needed for fertilizer.

The benefits of using the Natural Farming methods include:

1) lower cost to the farmer (by as much as 60%)

2) more desirable crops

3) stronger, healthier and more nutritious plants

4) the inputs are made from natural materials, which are not only safe for the environment, but actually invigorate and rehabilitate the ecology.

5) higher yield

6) better quality

7) farmer friendly

8) zero waste emission

The other basic theories of Natural Farming include:

1) Use the historic nutirient of seeds

2) Use the indigenous microorganisms (IMO’s)

3)Maximize the inborn potential

4) Do not use chemical fertilizers

5) Do not till the land

6) Zero emission of livestock wastewater

7) Sow less, yield more

Natural Farming has been embraced by the South Korean government after one county experimented and every farmer in the county practiced it for a year. These rice farmers not only had bigger yields than usual, but saved money on their inputs and sold their rice for a premium. Where they practice Natural Farming it has had the added benefit of cleaning up the waterways, rivers and even coastal waters.

A co-op of 40 strawberry farmers uses Natural Farming methods exclusively in their 300′ long greenhouses producing gorgeous, scrumptious strawberries, which again sell for a premium, certified “Natural Farming”. In another wide scale experiment, an entire county is practicing a model of totally self-sufficient farming where each farm has 500 chickens, 20 pigs and five beef cattle.

Mr. Cho has spread Natural Farming worldwide. He went to the Gobi Desert in Mongolia and planted trees there. Efforts to plant trees had failed three times earlier, under the harsh wind and with only few inches of rainfall a year. With Natural Farming methods the trees had a 97% survival rate and are now 20′ tall. Corn and barnyard grasses have been planted for livestock feed and wells have been dug. Watermelon farming now provides a stable income to farmers there also.

When the Chinese were preparing for the Olympics to be held in Beking, China, the Chinese army came in, bringing with them their pigs, which they raise to feed themselves. The population of Beking was suddenly assaulted by the smell of pig waste and protested violently. The head of the Chinese army sent two men to South Korea to study Natural Farming, which he had heard about. The men came back and the army immediately started practicing the Natural Farming methods and the smell went away. The University of Peking now offers Masters and Ph.D programs in Natural Farming.

Mr. Cho's son has created his own methodology of Natural Farming which is even cheaper. His basic recipe for introducing indigenous mycorrhizae to the soil and increasing micro-biological activity on one-quarter acre of land follows. Into 125 gallon container of water, put 5 gallons of ocean water, 6-7 lbs. of sugar, 2 liters of agricultural mineral water (water which has had an aquarium pump circulating the water or has been dropped from 10 feet onto mineral stone or azomite).  Now go to a naturally fertile, shaded spot on your land and scoop up a handful of soil off the top ½”: soil that has it's own mycorrhizae already present and thriving. Add to this, a handful of soil from three different naturally fertile spots. Mix these soils together and take one handful and drop it into a pint of water. Add to the 125 gallons of water. The last ingredient you make in a blender with wild grasses. Pack a blender with wild grass and a little water and blend. Make 2 quarts of this and add it to the 125 gallons of water/mix. Let this mixture sit for 18 to 20 hours. To apply it directly onto the soil, dilute it 10 times. To foliar feed, dilute it 20 times. Apply it during rain or right before rain or in the evening or early morning. This solution can be applied 8 to 10 times a year for the best results.

So what is this Natural Farming you're still wondering? Very simply, it is the propagation of mycorrhizae, along with protocol for adding specific inputs during the nutritive cycle of the plant. Mycorrhizae are “fungus roots” and act as an interface between plants and soil. They grow into the roots of crops and out into the soil, increasing the root system many thousands of times over. They act symbiotically, converting with enzymes the nutrients of the soil into food the plants can use and taking carbohydrates from the plants and turning it into nutrients the soil can use: sequestering carbon in the soil for later use. Miles of fungal filaments can be present in an ounce of healthy soil. Mycorrhizal inoculation of soil increases the accumulation of carbon in the soil by depositing glomalin, which in turn, increases soil structure, by binding organic matter to mineral particles in the soil. It is glomalin that gives soil its tilth, it's texture and rich feel, it's buoyancy and ability to hold water.

A way to anchor or feed mycorrhizae in the soil is by adding charcoal, specifically charcoal which is made without fossil fuels. Charcoal provides shelter for the mycorrhizae to live in with it's myriad, tiny holes. This biochar was used in the Amazon Basin 6,000 years ago and samples of this ancient soil are impressively fertile still today.

Can Natural Farming be done with no store bought fertilizers? Yes, it is done, and on a commercial scale. For us, here in Hawaii, it is incredibly empowering to mix our own mycorrhizae-rich soil amendments, our soil fertility drug. To be weaned from the fertilizer store. But the proof is in the pudding, as they say. It is simple, cheap and easy to try. Follow the steps at the localgarden.us website and make your own. Plant a tray of seedlings with it and next to it, a tray of seedlings without it. You'll be amazed by the difference!

You can view photos of IMO #4 being made at www.ctahr.org.’s website. Type in Natural Farming in their search. Also, our local club keeps an informative website, www.naturalfarminghawaii.net.

No Smell, No Fly, Zero Run-Off Piggeries

by Jackie Prell

The first thing you should know about Neena Roumell and Atto Assi’s piggery, as the title suggests, is that their piggery has no smell, no flies, and zero run-off. That’s zero with a Z. In contrast to the thousands of CAFO’s (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) across the nation that are becoming an environmental disaster, this is the most eco-friendly piggery imaginable. And Neena and Atto wouldn’t have it any other way. They are deeply committed to protecting the water table, the land, and producing good, healthy food.

Atto was trained and worked as a petroleum engineer on the Ivory Coast of Africa and Romania and Neena, who was originally from Chicago, as a scientific writer. They moved to Mountain View, Hawaii, 7 years ago, because Atto wanted to use his training to grow oil crops, a crop which works with Hawaii’s sub-tropical climate. They planted 3500 oil palms on their 18 acres, which will produce their first crop soon. The oil palm seeds will be crushed and turned into bio-fuel and the leftover, high-protein cake fed to their pigs. Atto is the only licensed oil extractor on the island and the facility he built is already in use, making bio-fuel from waste restaurant oil. He may eventually produce up to 240 gallons of bio-fuel a day. Atto also designs smaller systems that can produce 50 gallons of fuel a day. Atto got his palm seedlings from Dr. Bill Steiner, who was then the dean of the College of Agriculture at UH Hilo. Dr. Steiner’s ongoing passion project is helping the islands become fuel-independent by growing fuel crops.

Neena and Atto became inspired to raise pigs after visiting Mike DuPonte’s piggery. Mike, who is the UH College of Tropical Ag and Human Resources Animal Specialist, set up his model piggery 5 years ago, specifically to get FDA/Dept. of Health approval.  His piggery has been a showcase for people interested in Korean Natural Farming (KNF) animal husbandry methods. Just ten years ago there were 25,000 pigs being raised in Hawaii, but has this number has dropped to 6,500 pigs today because of the high price of imported feedstock and stricter DOH standards. Hawaii is facing a protein shortage and currently imports 85% of its pork as well as a similar percentage of its food.

Neena and Atto’s operation can hold 400 pigs, half market-size pigs and half wean-off.  The baby pigs are kept with the mothers for 6 weeks and they raise a mix of breeds: Yorkshire, Landrace, and Dorocs.  Once the palms are producing there are plans to expand the operation. For now, the pigs are fed a mixed diet of macadamia nuts, (when they’re available), sweet potato, banana, papaya, grain, and “honohono” grass, which is 14% protein and the pigs favorite food. The macadamia nuts are high in minerals and good for metabolic growth. These pigs never get “slop” and have a superior taste. A local supermarket markets Neena and Atto’s antibiotic and pesticide-free pork as “green” pork, which sells for $40 per lb.

Designing and planning for their feedstock and utilizing it as fuel to run their tractor, generator and other equipment has set Atto and Neena up for their future success. They are completely off-grid and their oil extractor runs off an extensive electric solar system.

Their piggery is built to Korean Natural Farming and DOH standards, with a cement floor and a vented roof, which allows the heat from the microbial activity to be carried up and out. The sides of the building are open, to help with air flow, and the overhang on the roof is large enough to keep the rain out. Keeping the pigs’ bedding dry is key to maintaining a happy microbial, aerobic environment.  Their water comes from nipples placed in each pen.

The pigs bedding is 4’ deep and placed on top of the cement in layers. The bottom layer is bio-char, the next is logs, at least 2” diameter. These logs can be as large as you like, and can be touching. Next green waste is added to fill it up. The green waste is sprinkled with IMO #4, one pound for every 50 square feet.  Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) diluted at a 1:1000 ratio, is sprayed several times over the first few weeks. A slight yeasty smell indicates the microbes have been activated and the pen is ready for use. Fermented plant juice, another common KNF input is sometimes added to the LAB. The microbial activity kicks in within a few weeks and then the pigs are introduced. The lactic acid is beneficial for the pigs and reduces any smell by neutralizing and digesting the pigs excrement. The pigs love the deep litter for digging in and are contented and non-stressed. Their litter never needs to be cleaned out, but rather needs to be added to every few months as it is tramped down and chewed up. Lactic acid is sprayed every few weeks or as needed. Heavy logs can be placed on top of the litter for the pigs rooting pleasure and to facilitate microbial activity.

If you would like to learn more about Korean Natural Farming animal husbandry, which works with pigs, chickens, and cows, sponsored by CGN – East Hawaii Chapter is sponsoring a 3 day symposium, Feb. 4, 5 and 6, 2017. For more information about this and to learn how to sign up go to https://cgnf-hawaii.org/ This event will feature farm tours, hands-on, learning classes, as well as presentations by experienced farmers and experts.

*Lactic Acid Bacteria Recipe

To make lactic acid bacteria, first wash a cup of rice and save the water. Fill a jar with 20 cm of rice wash water, cover with a paper to keep insects out, and set in a dark spot for a week, preferably in an opaque container. It will start to give off a sour smell when done. Next, pour off the rice water and add to milk, ideally raw milk, at a ratio of 10 parts milk, one part rice water.  The lactic acid bacteria will grow vigorously in the milk. In 5-7 days the milk will have separated into the milk solids and whey. Starch, protein and fat will float on the top of the liquid, which remains at the bottom. Remove the floating ‘curds’ and save the liquid: this is the lactic acid bacteria. It can be stored in the refrigerator or mixed with equal parts brown sugar and then stored at room temperature.

The LAB is diluted 1:1000 and often combined with indigenous microorganisms, and sprayed on fields.