DVS: Livestock farmers pollute due to bad waste management

KUALA LUMPUR: Environmental pollution originating from livestock waste has been a longstanding issue in Malaysia, with the Veterinary Services Department (DVS) attributing this to the lackadaisical attitude of most industry players.

The contamination of Sungai Punggur in Air Molek, Melaka, in 2020 was among the cases of severe pollution reported in recent years and it was caused by waste discharged by at least seven unlicensed cattle farms.

Thousands of people residing in the surrounding areas complained about the foul smell emanating from the sludge that had piled up in the river.

In 2022, eight pig farms in Kuala Langat, Selangor, were identified as the source of effluents discharged onto the Tanjung Sepat coastline after investigations found contaminated water flowing from the farms concerned into the sea.

According to DVS data for 2017, the livestock industry produced 27,416 tonnes of waste a day.

Broiler (meat-producing) chicken farms and layer (egg-laying hens) farms accounted for 60% of the waste, followed by cattle farms (22%), pig farms (16%) and goat farms (2.3%).

It said the substantial amount of waste produced each day was linked to “inefficient waste management” by livestock industry players, thus placing this sector among the major contributors to environmental pollution in the country.

A spokesman for DVS’ Regulatory Division told Bernama many industry players still failed to abide by good animal husbandry practices, including the application of proper waste disposal procedures.

Among the common complaints received by the department pertaining to animal waste are foul smells, housefly infestations and discharge of effluents into the public drainage system.

Livestock waste and wastewater discharged by abattoirs must be treated in advance, the spokesman stressed, terming the untreated effluents as a “time bomb” that can give rise to a host of zoonotic diseases including brucellosis, salmonellosis, tuberculosis, bird flu, swine flu and the Nipah virus disease.

According to the spokesman, offences committed by unregistered farms come under the jurisdiction of local authorities or the Irrigation and Drainage Department.

On the wastewater treatment system used by the livestock industry, he said a proper system would usually have three stages of treatment – physical treatment to separate solid waste; biological treatment where the organic matter is decomposed by natural microbes in a pond; and settling process where the effluents are deposited in a settling tank or pond before being discharged into public drains.

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