Beef Feedlot Forums

Denise Schwab, Field Specialist-Beef, Southeast Area

Problem Statement:

Iowa has regulated open feedlots since 1969, however there have been several changes in the regulations in the last few years creating significant confusion on the part of producers.  The Feedlot Forums were designed to help answer producers questions on environmental regulations and put producers in contact with agency staff to assist in becoming or remain in compliance with these rules.

Programmatic Response:

Two Feedlot Forums were coordinated in eastern Iowa to address producers questions on open feedlot regulations.  Partners in the program were NRCS, DNR, Extension, and watershed project staff.  The forums were set up to be small group breakout sessions where producers could move from one speaker to another.  The topics included funding sources for facility renovation, siting and technical advice, operation and maintenance of open feedlots, expectations of DNR, and the economic benefits of manure to crop production.  Speaker contact information was provided to participants.

Fifty producers attended the Maquoketa site and 44 attended the Amana site.


A follow-up evaluation was mailed to all participants in February 2007.  Only 11 evaluations were returned.  Two of the replies (18%) said they modified their manure handling systems as a result of attending this program.  One built a new settling basin and stacking area, and one constructed a cement manure basin to replace an old earthen basin.  Five (45%) of the replies said they changed how they manage their manure handling system in open lots.  The changes they made included changing to a cement settling basin (2), changing to different exit gates on their sediment basin, and scraping or cleaning the yards more often (2).  Only 1 (9%) has sampled manure for nutrient analysis as a result of the program.  Four (35%) of the respondents have applied for government cost share funds for manure handling structures.

Participants were asked to indicate how helpful the following stations were to their feedlot operation. Their responses were:

                                              Very                Somewhat              Not at All   
                                            Helpful       Helpful                       Helpful 
1 Funding & Finances  3 (27%) 6        (54%)          1(9%)
2 Site Planning/Technical Advice      5 (45%) 5       (45%)                   
3 Operation & Maintenance     5 (45%) 5       (45%)                  
4 Success Stories     2 (18%) 8       (73%)                   1 (9%)
5 Expectations of DNR  3 (27%)        4       (36%)           3 (27%)                
6 Economic Benefits of Manure          4 (36%)        6         (54%)                

They were also asked to identify additional information they would like to improve their knowledge and operation of an open feedlot.  Several indicated they would like to know more about the alternative technologies being studied.

This program has helped improve their understanding of environmental management of open feedlots, but there is clearly more education that needs to be done.

April 6, 2007
140 Iowa Pork Industry Center

Page last updated: April 11, 2007
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