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STAFF PHOTOS BY SUSAN USHER
SINCE EARLY 1992 A.W. Clemmons has been a contract grower for a major pork producer, feeding
nearly 2,450 hogs a day on a four-generation family farm at Bolivia. The waste treatment lagoon is to
Clemmons' right and the two hog parlors to his left.
ON-FARM RECYCLING: Waste pumped automatically from the hog parlors decomposes by anaero
bic bacterial action in this lagoon. With the effluent, Clemmons spray irrigates and fertilizes a field of
coastal bermuda hay, which is grazed by a small herd of beef cattle.
ALL ANIMAL WASTES RECYCLED ON THE FARM
A. W Clemmons
Facility 'Right To Start With'
BY SUSAN USHER
Fat sows and an ornery boar, root
ing around in a puddle of oozing
black mud under a stand of trees
down by the creek, reeking of ma
It that's your idea of a hog farm,
That traditional hog pen is fast
disappearing, in part because raising
swine is now big business, and in
part because of changing regulations
that reflect an increased concern for
AAV. Clemmons of Bolivia runs
what could be considered a state-of
the-art mid-si/ed hoj operation.
Since IW2 the Clemmons family
has run a grow-out operation under
contract with a major pork producer.
His operation, like most of those
built within the past two years, is ex
pected to meet or exceed new regu
latory standards, said Mamie Wil
son. administrative conservationist
with the local U.S. Soil Con
servation Service office.
*'l done it right to start with,"
Clemmons said. "We pump at the
right rate so there's no run-off."
Though Clemmons already
owned the land, his hog operation
was still a major investment. He
spent $180,000 building what is
considered a moderate-sized swine
operation. That covers the S22,(MK)
pump irrigation system, the l.S-acre
lagoon with berm. and two hog par
lors with galvanized steel sides, con
crete feeding floors with mesh
screen windows, automatic waste
flushing and temperature-triggered
"You can figure $200,000, count
ing seeding, to do it like it's got to
be done." said Clemmons.
The operation appears to be a
model of efficiency as well as good
Roughly three times a year, nearly
2,500 young pigs arrive by truck,
weighing 38 pounds each on aver
age. When they ship out 120 days
later, they weigh between 240 and
250 pounds and will be eating a
combined 90,000 pounds of feed a
"These are hybrids that don't
yield much fatback," said Clem
mons. "With the fat from the whole
lot you probably couldn't fill a lard
Their compact bodies are not only
lean, hut generally odor free and
Animal waste run-off isn't a prob
lem. The operation is located a good
distance away from water sources
that could be accidentally polluted
and all waste is collected, treated
THESE HYBRIDS are bred and fed to produce lean pork, part of
North Carolina's $900 million and growing pork production indus
and recycled on site.
With cleanliness a high priority
both i.t aesthetic and sanitary rea
sons, odor is not a problem?not
around the operation itself or down
wind for nearby residents, including
a renter in a mobile home near the
farm and fusully nicmbcrs.
"When you have an operation run
like it's supposed to be. you won't
have that," said Clemmons. "I didn't
come here to do this and aggravate
my neighbors. I live here and my
children live nearby."
Walking through one of the hog
parlors, Clemmons says, "They say
having hogs causes flies, but they
would have to prove it to me."
Gesturing about the building, he
continues, "See. there are no (lies
Each building holds 40 pens, 27
feet by 12 feet, with approximately
33 hogs to a pen. A center walkway
runs between between the iwo long
rows of nens.
As Clemmons reaches over to
scratch an inquisitive pig on the
snoni an automatic overhead sprin
kler begins spraying a fine mist onto
the hacks of the pigs. Anytime the
inside temperature reaches SO de
grees. the sprinklers come on three
minutes out of every 10 minutes. If
the heat gets excessive a second set
of sprinklers comes into play.
Recently installed equipment also
monitors relative humidity.
The pigs require some training
when they first arrive. Clemmons
points to the layout of the pens, each
with a solid pad toward the inside
and a slatted, wet area on the outer
side nearest the screened windows.
"We put their lood high on the in
side and activate the sprinklers at the
waste area. The pigs like to elimi
nate where it's wet."
Their training works, resulting in
pens that stay unusually clean and
Waste falls through the slats to a
sluice below. The area is flushed au
tomatically every two hours with
450 gallons of water. Wastewater
flows through piping into a 10-feet
deep, l.K-acre lagoon, where anaer
obic bacterial action helps break
down the waste and solids settle.
Clemmons periodically sprays the
resulting nutricnt-ricn cffiU'-ni as
fertilizer onto 52 acres of pasture
more than twice what he is required
to have?in a deliberate effort to
contain all waste on-site through re
A small herd of cattle?32 head
?grazes the coastal hermuda hay. "I
don't want to overgraze,"' says
The hogs and cattle both provide
ways to diversify income from the
land first farmed hv his grandfather,
the late Alfred Wright Clemmons.
and now farmed by Clemmons and
two of his four sons. Alan Dale and
Ricky. 11iin ycui they also put 155)
acres in corn. 600 acres in soybeans.
85 acres in tobacco and l.()00 acres
Clemmons, 60. has farmed most
of his life, and enjoys what he does
now "the best of everything I've
done." he says. "I spend a lot of time
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