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  • Over-wintering livestock and regulatory implications
  • Time for learning
  • Feedlot Forum 2012 features “old” and “new”
  • Announcements and updates

Over-wintering livestock and regulatory implications
By Angela Rieck-Hinz, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
As we move into winter months, livestock producers who raise animals outside should be aware of pen conditions that may require them to implement different practices, alter conditions, seek permit coverage or all of the above to protect water quality.

The term animal feeding operation (AFO) is defined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as “a lot or facility where animals have been, are, or will be stabled or confined and fed or maintained for a total of 45 days or more in any 12 month period and crops, vegetation, forage growth, or post harvest residues are not sustained in the normal growing season over any portion of the lot or facility.” The EPA has clarified that, when it comes to winter feeding areas, you look at the conditions of the vegetation when the animals are present. Concerns about overwintering livestock can arise when animals are moved from pasture-based situations to a lot, corral, or cow yard near barns for feeding or protection from winter weather conditions.

If animals are confined to a lot, corral, cow yard, or otherwise outside in conditions that do not support vegetation or residue, then the situation meets the definition of an AFO. If the number of animals present meets the regulatory threshold, then the feeding operation can be defined as a large, medium or small concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO). See table 1 for threshold numbers.

Questions have been raised regarding the 45-day calculation. It is important to keep in mind that a producer that already operates an AFO and confines more cattle at the operation in winter feeding pens, has already met the 45-day criteria. This is significant in that a facility that is already a large CAFO must ensure that the winter feeding areas remain pasture operations or ensure that the areas do not discharge pollutants because any discharge to a water of the United States would be a violation of the Clean Water Act. Permitted operations (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System or NPDES) need to be particularly mindful of the permit requirements because confining animals outside of runoff-controlled areas may be a violation of the permit, regardless of whether discharges occur. In regard to a medium sized operation, although the pens areas will be deemed part of the AFO if the area is grazed to the point where there is insufficient forage to support the animals, the operations will not be considered a large CAFO unless the AFO exceeds 1,000 head of cattle for a total of 45 days or more in any 12 month period. In other words, the 45-days may not be necessary for the operation to be considered an AFO, but it would still be necessary to be a large CAFO.

If the feeding operation is a large CAFO, and the operation discharges, even intermittently, a NPDES permit, qualifying manure controls and a nutrient management plan are required by the EPA. Without an NPDES permit the feeding operation warrants total containment of manure, effluent, process wastewater and runoff from the production area.

Photo credit: Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Depending on the number of animals (see table 1), and if the feeding operation experiences either of the two discharge criteria, the situation could be deemed a medium CAFO. The discharge criteria are 1) a man-made ditch, pipe, or similar device carries manure or process wastewater from the operation to surface water, or 2) the animals come into contact with surface water that runs through the area where they are confined. If the operation is defined as a medium CAFO, it is also subject to NPDES permit requirements, manure controls and the terms of a nutrient management plan, but these requirements are less stringent than for a large CAFO. Again, without a NPDES permit, the situation warrants total containment of manure, effluent, process wastewater and runoff from the production area.

Small operations must be designated as small CAFOs by the DNR for permitting requirements to be applicable. This can happen when the livestock operation has a discharge that has caused a water quality violation or has significant pollution potential.

AFO rules do not apply to pasture based operations because pasture operations are not regulated by the CWA. It should be noted, however, that operations that over-winter animals on stalks or stubble can be considered an AFO if the concentration of animals is too great and the animals are kept in the area too long. A rule of thumb when determining if an area could be an AFO; if feed must be brought in order for these animals to survive, it is likely that the area lacks sufficient forage to be considered a pasture operation.

Even when permits are not required, livestock producers should take precautions to ensure that runoff of soil and manure from areas where animals are overwintered does not reach water bodies, especially if the area lacks forage. If possible and practical, make sure vegetation is maintained by frequently moving feeders and bedded areas. Consider implementing practices or building structures that keep surface water from running through these overwintering areas. Common practices include guttering roofs to move clean water off-site and building diversions to reroute clean water away from areas where animals congregate. When manure runoff cannot be avoided, divert this runoff to field or pasture areas where the water and nutrients can soak into the soil.

As mentioned earlier, while pasture-based livestock operations are not considered AFOs, management can also help protect streams and water sources for these operations. A series of publications in “A Guide to Managing Pasture Water” are available at these links: Streamside Buffers Off-Stream Water, Shade and Nutritional Supplementation to Modify Animal Behavior Stabilized Stream and Pond Access Sites

Table 1.  Number of animals to meet CAFO definitions.

Number of animals to meet CAFO definitions

Angela Rieck-Hinz is an extension program specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreachand is the coordinator of the Iowa Manure Management Action Group (IMMAG). You can read more about manure management issues by visiting the IMMAG Web Page at:  http://www.agronext.iastate.edu/immag/.
This article was reviewed for technical content by Shawn Shouse, Agricultural Engineer, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach; Gene Tinker, AFO Coordinator, Iowa Department of Natural Resources; and Dan Breedlove, Attorney,  EPA Region VII.   

Time for learning
By Dan Loy, IBC interim director

Another Iowa winter is nearly upon us. Depending on what it looks like outside as you read this, it may already be here. December begins the season where chores become “chores.” In addition to the daily care and feeding of your cattle you are likely to have snow to push, waterers to thaw and pens to bed.

Many Iowa farmers spend considerable time in their shops doing machinery maintenance and repairs in preparation for the spring. Ask any cattlemen and they will tell you, there’s lots to be done and the days are short.

Winter also is a time for planning, looking ahead, and bringing yourself up to date on new ideas in beef production and business. Steven Covey calls this “Sharpening the Saw,” as one of his 7 habits of highly effective people. What he is alluding to is continuing to learn and keep up to date on new skills. Perhaps a better analogy for Iowa farmers is to “Grease the Zerk.”

One opportunity to “grease the zerk” is the upcoming Iowa Cattlemen’s Convention, Dec. 12-14 in Des Moines. Look for IBC staff to be part of the Info/Expo with information on heifer development, feed cost management and other important topics to help you sharpen the management tools to be successful.

These sessions will be sneak previews of our upcoming educational efforts. Be sure to participate in the policy sessions while there.

Decisions made here will guide the actions of the organization of the next year. It’s only through participation that your voice is heard.
animals than any other state.

Another opportunity will be a series of sessions across the state from the Iowa Beef Center on tools and techniques for heifer development.

The program currently is in the planning stages, but will be held in at least 10 locations and will include timely information on heifer selection, nutrition, estrus synchronization and A. I., health, sire selection and more.

Read the rest of Dan's column on the IBC website.

Feedlot Forum 2012 features “old” and “new”
By Beth Doran ISU Extension beef program specialist

The cattle industry will soon begin a new year, but much of 2011 – high feed costs, a smaller calf crop and a slow economy – will linger. These and new factors affecting profitability will be the focus of Feedlot Forum 2012 on Jan. 17 in Sioux Center.

The Forum begins with a broad overview of the financial climate for agriculture by Bill Davis, SVP and chief credit officer for Farm Credit Services of America at Omaha, NE. Bill will discuss the outlook for agricultural lending and the availability of ag credit for operating and expansion.

Record corn futures prices of $7.99¾ in June, coupled with severe drought in the south, have elevated the prices for all feedstuffs. Dr. Dan Loy, state Extension feedlot specialist and interim director of IBC at Iowa State University, will talk about low-cost feed approaches feedlot operators can implement to enhance profitability.

ISU Extension ag engineering program specialists Shawn Shouse and Kris Kohl team up to present “Handling and Land Applying Feedlot Runoff.” Shawn will cover best management practices to maximize the nutrient value of manure and protect the environment, and Kris will focus on a new, low-cost method of pumping manure.

Concluding the presentations will be Chad Spearman, market analyst and grain expert for Cattle Fax. In his presentation, “Trends and Expectations for the Cattle and Beef Markets,” Chad will present a snapshot of not only what was, but also what the future holds for beef producers.

Feedlot Forum also includes a trade show of more than a dozen ag businesses with new products and services, and the District One Meeting of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association.

Matt Deppe, new chief executive officer for the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, will share his vision for the organization and address membership questions.

Registration for Feedlot Forum 2012 is $25 per person (includes noon meal and a beef certificate) and is due Jan. 12 at the Sioux County Office.

For more information, contact Beth Doran, ISU Extension Beef Program Specialist, at 712-737-4230 or e-mail doranb@iastate.edu.

Announcements and updates

Keep up with Iowa Beef Center/ISU Extension and Outreach beef events.

Bookmark for future reference

2012 Cornbelt Cow-Calf Conference to focus on efficiency

OTTUMWA, Iowa -- The premier educational event in Iowa for cow-calf producers is offering a comprehensive package of information to attendees at the Jan. 21 event.

The popular Cornbelt Cow-Calf Conference (CCCC) has provided timely, accurate and important information to the state’s beef cattle industry for 40 years, and Iowa State University (ISU) Extension beef program specialist Byron Leu said this year’s conference will continue its successful traditions.

“The Cornbelt Cow-Calf Conference has been, and will continue to be, successful because it provides information and access to speakers that beef producers have come to expect,” Leu said. “The steering committee does a great job of finding highly qualified and respected speakers in the industry who can speak with authority and sincerity on the topics pertinent to Midwestern operations.”

The 2012 event will focus on a variety of topics designed to help producers recognize ways to make their operations more efficient and profitable. From maintaining competitiveness in light of high corn prices to applied approaches to genetics, experts from universities and private industry in the Midwest will be leading these sessions and giving producers valuable information to put into practice on their farms.

Be sure to check the IBC website for more information on speakers, topics and the event brochure.