Demonstrating Viability of Cooperative Swine Aggregator Using Inoculated Deep Litter System

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2019: $25,000.00
Projected End Date: 05/31/2020
Host Institution Award ID: G252-19-W7501
Grant Recipient: Ohana Coffee Farm & Assi Piggery
Region: Western
State: Hawaii
Principal Investigator:
Atto Assi
Ohana Coffee Farm & Assi Piggery

Information Products


  • Animals: swine


  • Animal Production: animal protection and health, livestock breeding, manure management
  • Education and Training: demonstration, farmer to farmer, mentoring, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: cooperatives
  • Sustainable Communities: employment opportunities, local and regional food systems, quality of life


    This project investigates the economic viability of a cooperative aggregation model for small-scale swine production in a tropical environment. Pork is a critical part of the culture in Hawai‘i for local consumers including Native Hawaiian, Filipino, Portuguese, Tongan, and Samoan communities. Many of these consumer groups prefer to buy whole pigs directly from local farms as pork cannot be purchased in this form from any other source in the state. Small piggeries often cannot meet demand or provide a consistent supply for consumers seeking farm-raised pork, whether it be for on-farm sales, marketplaces, restaurants, or value-added product ventures. Hawai‘i Swine Producers Cooperative (HSPC) aims to meet this demand by aggregating piglets from members, raising them to market weight, and selling them to local markets. In turn, this can increase the viability of small-scale local piggery operations by improving efficiency through economies of scale.

    Hawai‘i Swine Producers Cooperative members operate piggeries using an innovative method called the Inoculated Deep Litter System (IDLS). IDLS utilizes green waste bedding and enhanced microbial activity for low-maintenance, low-odor pork production with reduced environmental impacts. During this project, the Cooperative aggregation site will host two workshops to educate local farmers about the benefits and methodology of IDLS, promoting adoption of the system and recruiting producers for HSPC membership and aggregator participation. HSPC members will also construct a portable IDLS pen and lead presentations at local agricultural events to demonstrate sustainable pork production methods and recruit new members.

    Throughout the project, costs to establish and operate the aggregation site will be tracked, including supplies and detailed labor records. These financial records will be used to assess the economic feasibility of the cooperative aggregation model. This cost analysis can inform the establishment of future IDLS piggeries and swine aggregation sites in Hawai‘i and the Pacific Islands.


    Project objectives:

    1: Construct deep litter system at swine aggregation center.

    • Purchased supplies and mobile livestock trailer
    • Installed litter layers
    • Inoculated litter bedding

    2: Develop and share standard operating procedures for the swine aggregation center.

    • Wrote SOPs for aggregation center.
    • Disseminate immediately the standard operating procedures.

    3: Raise and sell first litter of 50 pigs.

    • Receive 50 piglets from Hawai‘i Swine Producers Cooperative members
    • Identify buyers
    • Rear hogs to market weight, sell to buyers
    • Record operational costs and revenue (including in-kind inputs and time)

    4: Host 2 on-farm workshops on Inoculated Deep Litter System; showcase swine aggregation services.

    • We hosted only one on-farm workshops because of the State wide lockdown due to the pandemic (Covid19). We designed a questionnaire to be administered before and after the workshop.  The goal of the questionnaire was intended to measure knowledge, awareness and skills about sustainable agricultural change. The barriers to sustainability demonstrated through the workshop included  a) the sequential steps in the design/creation of the inoculated deep litter system piggery. b) The impact of the IMO-spiked aerobic method on swine health and the environment. c) Identification of signs that the deep litter bed is working effectively. d) Pig care and feeding  e) The new laws effecting waste management, food safety and conservation water, soil and air. 

    5: Construct and present Portable IDLS Pen to producers and the public at 3 local events.

    We build the portable livestock pen and was able to present the portable IDLS pen to the public at only one local event. The presentation of the mobile livestock trailer in the  International Food Day at our largest supermarket (KTA) generated significant interest about the multiple benefits of the deep litter system. Because of health concerns,  local pigs buyer can't visit the aggravation site. Instead we used the portable IDLS Pen to deliver market size pigs to private buyers.  AS a result we are receiving and continuing to receive  orders for Fresh pork from the deep litter system piggery and inquiries for help to convert existing piggeries and assistance and direction to set- up the IDLS system. 

    6: Evaluate economic viability of cooperative aggregation and livestock-rearing center.

    •  Economic profitability is a main driver of sustainability. The Hawaii Swine Producer Members all run their own piggeries to raise piglets.  They are selling their wean-off piglets to the aggregation center which is raising them to market size. As co-owners of the Swine Cooperative, they receive the net profit of the revenue after deduction of feed and labor costs.  This model addresses challenges of pig production such as feed,  labor cost and marketing (in economic shutdown environment), improving the profitability for member farms and expanding opportunities for the new producer by eliminating barrier to entry. This in turn increases the viability of local small scale piggery operation by improving efficiency through economies of scale.  A major consideration is that the IDLS requires a minimum start-up cost by eliminating the irrigation system and lagoon design and transportation of manure.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.