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Cattle Feedlot Odors Can Be Controlled

NDSU livestock experts offer advice on minimizing odors from cattle feedlots.

The recent hot, humid weather is bringing out odors at some North Dakota cattle feedlots.

“Feedlots do not need to smell,” says Karl Hoppe, area Extension Service livestock specialist at North Dakota State University’s Carrington Research Extension Center. “Feedlots may have a slight odor, but they do not have to have an overwhelming odor.”

Proper feedlot design and management are the keys to keeping smells to a minimum, he adds.

One of those management tools is pen stocking density.

“Don’t overcrowd the pens,” advises Ron Wiederholt, NDSU’s nutrient management specialist at the Carrington center. “This may not be easy since most producers want to maximize pen space, but during hot weather, this may not be good for the cattle nor the condition of the pen.”

High stocking rates lead to wetter pen surfaces from the cattle’s urine. Overcrowding also can degrade the pen’s surface, resulting in wallows and potholes that stay wet.

Rainfall that collects in pens is another odor causer, according to Hoppe.

“Whenever you have water mixed in with manure, you have odor,” he says.

Wiederholt recommends keeping pen surfaces uniform so they don’t develop low spots where rain and urine can collect. Feedlot operators also should scrape and remove manure from pens more often during hot weather.

“Frequent scraping and removal of manure from pens is probably the most effective management tool for odor control,” he says. “If you can’t afford to decrease pen stocking density, then you must increase the frequency of pen scraping and manure removal.”

However, feedlot operators have to find a place to put all that manure. They’ll need to have a temporary manure stacking area since they won’t have a place to spread it at this time of year.

The temporary storage area can be in the corners of fields where the manure will be spread after the crops are off. But producers will have to make sure the sites they chose for the piles have a low risk of runoff, Wiederholt says.

For more information about managing livestock manure, check out NDSU Extension publications NM-1297, “Producers Guide to Livestock Manure Management Systems,” and NM-1320, “Resource Guide for Livestock Manure Management.” Also visit the Web sites at http://www.mwps.org and http://www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu/carringt/waste_mgmt_program.htm for more information on livestock waste management.


NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:Ron Wiederholt, (701) 652-2951, ron.wiederholt@ndsu.edu
Source:Karl Hoppe, (701) 652-2951, karl.hoppe@ndsu.edu
Editor:Ellen Crawford, (701) 231-5391, ellen.crawford@ndsu.edu
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