Extension Beef Specialist
PIT GASES POSE A DANGER IN BEEF BARNS
We have heard several reports of cattle deaths while pumping pits, but fortunately no human deaths. The following information comes from Dan Anderson and Jay Harmon from Iowa State University's Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering. They discuss the dangers of gases that can be released when agitating and pumping liquid manure.
Hydrogen sulfide gas is a serious issue both in and around barns with liquid manure storage. The decomposition of organic matter in manure results in the release of several gases: ammonia, carbon dioxide, methane and hydrogen sulfide among them. Most of the time these gases are emitted at low levels, but any time manure is being agitated or pumped, or the surface is disturbed, hydrogen sulfide can be rapidly released.