When the size of a livestock operation increases, the manure storage needs increase along with it. Natalie Rector, Michigan State University (MSU) manure nutrient management field specialist says the expansion that often comes with family members returning to the farm often also leads to upgrades and improvements in equipment and facilities.
Storage capacity, hauling frequency, land availability, equipment needs and odor management strategies must also be considered, she reminds. “If you currently have one month of storage and double the herd, there will only be two weeks of storage, for example. If the herd is doubled and the storage is doubled, the system is back to one month of manure storage, but will take twice as long to empty,” she explains.
Rector says even when hauling frequency is reduced, the time required to haul the manure increases. It may require a week or more of favorable weather conditions in order to finish hauling the manure. Speeding up the process may require purchasing a larger manure tank or spreader.
The farm’s crop rotations, soil types, time and labor requirements must be part of the expansion-planning process. She asks, “Is there sufficient land base on which to appropriately utilize manure based on agronomic nitrogen and phosphorus soil limitations and/or regulations in your state? A good rule of thumb is to have two to three acres per milking cow when replacements are also housed on the farm for long-term sustainability.”
Odor can also become a consideration. A larger livestock herd and increased manure hauling also increases odor risks. “Neighbors who used to be friendly may not be as congenial with the livestock expansion if it generates more frequent and longer-lasting odor events,” Rector says.
When time is short for manure hauling and application, it may be more efficient to hire a custom applicator. Read more about Rector’s nutrient management suggestions online at http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/expanding_your_herd_means_expanding_manure_storage_as_well.