Feedlot Update - June 2015

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Feedlot Update

June 2015

Dairy generates buzz about environmental sustainability

dorrich dairy

Sometimes it’s the simplest solutions that create the most buzz.

In the case of Dorrich Dairy near Glenwood, innovation comes in the form of tiny wasp larvae. The six-legged insects may be small, but they’re having a huge impact controlling the farm’s fly population, improving cow comfort, reducing the use of pesticides and reducing the 400-cow operation’s impact on the environment.

In the Vold family since 1899, the dairy operation was added 21 years ago by Richard and Dorothy Vold so their sons and families could join the farm operation. Today Brad and Suzanne Vold, and Greg and Charity Vold, embrace both old and new methods of protecting the farm’s natural resources to ensure that the land stays viable for the future generations. Their efforts have been recognized with a 2015 U.S. Dairy Sustainability Award for Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability. (Photo: Brad Vold holds a bag of wasp larvae in packing material; in background, Richard and Suzanne Vold.)

“Continuing our family’s tradition as stewards of the land is immensely important to all of us,” says Suzanne. “That tradition is centered around honoring the commitment we’ve made to the environment, our animals and our neighbors. Richard and Dorothy honored that commitment, and so are we.”

Since 2009, the Volds have been introducing wasp larvae into fly nests. They receive three pouches each week from a company in Texas, and sow them throughout the barn. They learned of using the wasps from Riverview Dairy, from which they also receive digested manure solids that they use for bedding.

Once the wasps hatch – a small, non-stinging variety – they eat the fly pupae, then lay eggs to begin the cycle again. This has drastically reduced the need for synthetic chemicals to control flies and has cut insecticide costs by 85 percent.

In addition to successfully implementing this integrated pest management system, the Volds have embraced numerous other approaches designed to make a measurable impact on the environment, their community and the farm’s future, including:  

  • Protecting  water quality through frequent crop rotations and cover crops on about 600 acres;
  • Planting corn in smaller-than-usual 15-inch rows to crowd out weeds;
  • Aggressively scouting pests; and
  • Using a high-tech soil-mapping system to continuously measure pH and electrical conductivity to determine the precise amount of nutrients to use.

“We’re constantly collecting data to adjust and readjust,” says Greg Vold. “Combining the latest technology with our family’s more than a century of experience farming really allows us to find and put into action the best solutions.” – Midwest Dairy Association. June is National Dairy Month.

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Poultry workers asked to be vigilant about biosecurity

avian flu-tire spray

The USDA, Board of Animal Health and the Department of Agriculture, are asking everyone in the livestock industry to tighten biosecurity measures in counties hard hit by avian influenza. Workers must be aware of the importance of where they walk and drive and take necessary steps to thoroughly clean and disinfect vehicles. The virus transfers via feces and survives in manure for extended periods of time. Contamination of trucks, equipment, and clothing or footwear with feces can spread the virus. It is important everyone do their part to prevent the spread of this disease.

1. Transport drivers arrive at work wearing clean clothes and footwear that hasn’t been worn around livestock.

2. Carry and use cover-ups (clean, disinfected rubber boots or disposable boots) in a clean container in the truck cab.

3. Stay as close to the truck as possible.

4. Stay on your side of the Line of Separation between you or your equipment and the production facilities. Whenever possible, ask farm staff to open and close the bin lids.

5. Remove cover-ups when back in the truck; contain and dispose of garbage in a separate bag or plastic container.

6. Use hand sanitizer in the cab before touching surfaces.

7. Do not cross the Line of Separation between the production facilities and you or your equipment. This includes not entering the barn office or facilities. Leave invoices in a designated area, such as mailboxes attached to the bin leg or outside of the office.

8. Drop bagged feed in a designated area, without crossing the Line of Separation.

More information is available on the Board of Animal Health biosecurity web page and the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service biosecurity web page.

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Avian flu on Animal Science conference agenda Sept. 24

MinnWest campus

The avian flu situation will be on the agenda of the fifth annual Animal Science conference Sept. 24 at the MinnWest Technology Campus in Willmar. On April 25 MTC hosted an avian influenza listening session with Governor Dayton and Senator Franken and key representatives with the turkey industry. Willmar and Kandiyohi County are in the heart of the epidemic. 

Conference organizers hope to address the avian flu topic in several ways: The economic impact, and 'lessons learned' about how this outbreak can help to handle a similar crisis for other types of livestock.

Some helpful web links:

Avian Influenza facts from Minnesota Turkey Grower's Association

 Some helpful facts about Minnesota's turkey industry provided by the Minnesota Turkey Grower's Association - Minnesota is ranked #1 for turkey production in the U.S.  

Joint Statement on Governor Dayton's Emergency Executive Order (April 23, 2015) 

State of Minnesota - daily update 

MPR news coverage (May 7)

The MinnWest Technology Campus is located on the site of the former Willmar Regional Treatment Center. It is being redeveloped into a base for a host of companies in the poultry industry, as well as other high-tech businesses.

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SDS permit available soon; 2016-21 NPDES permit in the works

The State Disposal System livestock general permit is in the final stages of review, with completion possible sometime in the next several weeks. It will be required for livestock farms with 1,000 animal units or more, and do not have a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit. It will be available on the MPCA feedlot program permit webpage, and applications may be submitted any time after it becomes available. Any feedlot with 1,000 or more animal units must have coverage under either the NPDES or SDS permit as required by the rule. Livestock farms currently operating with an NPDES/SDS permit, may continue with the federal NPDES permit, which will fulfill the state SDS permit requirement. 

Along with the SDS permit there will be a new application form to be used for NPDES and SDS permits. It has been streamlined to make the application process easier. A complete application will consist of submitting the application form and attaching a site sketch, manure management plan, emergency response plan, and engineering plans and specifications (if required). The application form has been shortened from 13 pages to eight pages and now incorporates the air emissions plan, operation and maintenance plan, and animal mortality plan into the eight-page application form itself. Applications for the new 2016-2021 NPDES permit will be accepted later. Applications for existing NPDES general permit renewals (for 2016-2021) are due Aug. 1. Fact sheet: NPDES and SDS permits for feedlots.

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CFO gives good advice on building good relationships

Dan Vermilyea

(Condensed from an article in Minnesota Farm Guide April 22.)

At a recent Commercial Animal Waste Technician training held during the North American Farm & Power show, Dan Vermilyea, Steele County feedlot officer, shared some points that could help farmers experience greater success.

Specifically, he talked about building a better relationship with your county feedlot officer, but his talk would work just as well for improving any type of relationship – just replace the words “county feedlot officer” with the person you are thinking about.

Any farmer who has animals or uses manure on their fields needs to know the name of their county feedlot officer. “Building that relationship is important,” said Vermilyea. “Ultimately, we both want the same thing, don’t we? We want to apply a natural fertilizer – and we want to do it environmentally safely – and we want to make sure that you don’t get hurt, and you don’t hurt somebody else in the process,” Vermilyea said.

Consider giving your county feedlot officer a phone call and asking them to ride along sometime when you’re spreading manure. Vermilyea has ridden with several technicians, and he appreciates the chance to see new technology.

“Trust is the most difficult thing to achieve and the easiest thing to lose without any question,” Vermilyea said. Farmers who apply manure – as well as commercial animal waste technicians and county feedlot officers – have the best success when they listen, show respect, tell the truth, offer feedback, remain positive and complete quality work.

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Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center News

LPE News logo

Waste to Worth recordings. The recordings from the Waste to Worth conference are being added to the proceedings papers as quickly as possible. Most of the Tuesday sessions have been completed.  A topic-by-topic and author search page are being created. | Add your photos to the slide show | Facebook page

Dairy Climate Conference. The LPELC climate team (northeast region) is hosting a Dairy Environmental Systems and Climate Adaptation conference July 29-31 in Ithaca, NY. Registration is now open. More...

Neighbors. Kevin Erb at the University of Wisconsin authored a new resource on neighbor relations. The article is based on information gathered from dairy farmers on ways they work with their neighbors. More...

Manure Expo Slogans. The 2015 North American Manure Expo already has a slogan "Manure Than You Can Handle" but the organizers are looking for more! Visit the manure expo website to check out some of the entries already received....

Avian Influenza

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In the news

Agencies dealing with avian flu reach out at public information meeting

Stearns County Emergency Management hosted a public meeting Tuesday in Melrose, bringing in representatives from county, state and federal agencies to address concerns about the avian flu impact on the poultry industry. About 70 people showed up to ask questions and hear updates. The spread of avian flu in central Minnesota seems to have slowed a bit. But producers and poultry workers in Stearns County say their livelihoods will take a while to recover from the virus that has killed over 8.4 million birds on 104 Minnesota farms. Tuesday's meeting provided presentations from agencies, and informal discussion at tables in an open house format including: USDA, Board of Animal Health, Minnesota Homeland and Emergency Management, Department of Health, U of M Extension, American Red Cross, Stearns County (Emergency Management, Human Services, Environmental Services), and CentraCare Health. Full story on MPR.

Survey: Iowa county supervisors split over big feedlots
Des Moines Register, 5/12/15
Good advice for success in farming and feedlots
Minnesota Farm Guide, 4/22/15
Whitewater Dairy feedlot permit up for public comment
Winona Daily News, 5/19/15
Winona County effort to lift herd limits advances
Winona Daily News, 5/27/15

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June 3-5: World Pork Expo, Des Moines.
June 4-5: Beef industry partners conference, Rutger's Bay Lake Lodge, Deerwood. Eric Mousel, 605-690-4974.
June 7-9: Gopher Dairy Camp, U of M-St. Paul.
June 17-19: Midwest Farm Energy Conference, U of M-Morris.
June 24-25: Precision Dairy conference, Mayo Civic Center, Rochester.
July 20-21: Summer Beef Tour, McLeod County fairgrounds, Hutchinson.
Sept. 24: 5th annual Animal Science Conference, MinnWest Technology Campus, Willmar.

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Send the news

The MPCA Feedlot Update welcomes news from partners about, projects, people, and upcoming events. Email submissions to forrest.peterson@state.mn.us. Past issues of Feedlot Update are available on the feedlot program publications webpage.