Properly Size Your Feedlot to Limit Mud

Chuck Reynolds, District Conservationist

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

May 2, 2018

Hopefully this winter is finally coming to an end.  It’s been one that many of us would like to forget.  Recently, it been rain, more rain and with that comes mud especially if you are dealing with livestock.

 As I drive through the countryside, I have noticed that livestock that are turned out in large “exercise areas” and already have the entire lot torn up.  Recently I attended a meeting hosted by the Ohio Department of Agriculture dealing with livestock waste, feedlots, milkhouse water, and soil erosion.  The presenter stated that areas with “no vegetation are considered a feed lot and vegetative areas are considered pasture”.  With that being said, I see a number of “feedlots” that are extremely large for the number of animals on them.  With water quality and soil erosion issue concerns in the public eye more, reducing lot sizes would reduce erosion and improve water quality.

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Between Midwest Planning Service planning data and the Natural Resources Conservation Service Technical Guide information, local NRCS/SWCD staff can provide technical services with a field visit to review your situation to possibly solve the resource issues and meet your objectives.  Using the MWPS planning data, a 1300 pound cow only needs between 300-500 square feet if using a lot.  This number can be reduced to as low 60-75 square feet per cow if the surface is paved or concrete.  Many of the situations I see, already have some if not all the hard surface they need.  With some conservation planning, additional conservation practices like pasture management, rotational grazing, heavy use areas, fence, access lanes, conservation cover, pipeline and watering facilities may be able to be utilized to meet your goals and reduce erosion and improve the water quality running off. 

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Chuck Reynolds

Chuck is the District Conservationist for Holmes and Coshocton counties with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.  He began his career as a summer trainee in 1981 with the Soil Conservation Service and has been located in Ashland, Delaware, Harrison, and Fairfield counties prior to moving to Holmes County August of 1984.  He graduated from The Ohio State University in 1983 with a Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture.   Chuck is married to Beth (Oswald) and resides near Berlin.  Chuck and Beth have two sons, Luke and Cole located in Columbus.  He also has a 215 acre farm in Knox County that he owns in partnership with his mom and brother. Many conservation practices have been implemented and maintained as part of the operation. Contact Chuck at 330-674-2811 or chuck.reynolds@oh.usda.gov