Actions to take prior to breaking ground

The more planning that takes place before starting construction of a feeding facility, such as a finishing floor, barn, or feedlot, the better the project will progress. No perfect plan eliminates hiccups along the way, but taking certain steps before breaking ground can pave a smoother path toward success. 

Determine Size: First, determine how many animals will be fed at the finishing facility. The number of hogs, cattle, chickens or other livestock a producer plans to manage will be the guiding factor in what size to build the facility. General standards for square footage are needed depending on the type of livestock and the nature of the operation. 

Additionally, the size of the operation impacts the regulations the operation must follow during construction. Small hobby farms don’t fall under the same rules and regulations as larger, full-time operations. 

Consult Regulations: Prior to breaking ground, experts stress it is essential for producers to check with local jurisdictions to ensure they are following the requirements and applying for permits if needed. The regulations and permits required depend on the size of the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) or the size of the Animal Feeding Operation (AFO). 

However, even if the operation falls below the number of animals required for more stringent permitting and ordinances, producers may want to consider implementing the requirements into their construction plan. “It’s still a good idea to follow the regulations as close as you can because if there is ever an issue, you can say I did my due diligence to try and prevent that,” Jim Crawford, University of Missouri Extension Field Specialist in Agricultural Engineering, said. “Even though you are not required to follow the regulations if you are small if there is a problem, you are still just as liable,” Crawford added.

Location: Producers will want to consider several factors when determining a location for their finishing facility. “The first thing you want to think about in regard to the location is where is it going to be sited in relationship to a residence because regardless of how much work you do, there is a possibility of an odor issue,” Crawford stated. 

Other considerations related to location include the proximity to utilities, water supply and other infrastructure. Additionally, producers who plan to rely on agri-businesses to deliver feed or hay should keep in mind the roads must consistently be in good enough condition for trucks to make deliveries. Though remote locations work well from an odor standpoint, if the roads aren’t bladed in the winter when it snows, or they get too soft in heavy rains, then it may not be a good location for the operation. 

Another important aspect of choosing a location has to do with where the facility will be in relation to water sources such as creeks, rivers and streams. Setbacks from water sources vary depending on the type of operation. The requirements and definition of water sources change from time to time, so producers need to make sure they are seeking the most updated information. 

Look Ahead: While making current plans go ahead and chart out plans for future expansion as well. Preparing for possible expansion 10 to 20 years down the road can save time and money in the long run. “Yes, it is extra money upfront, but building prices are not going to get any cheaper,” Crawford explained. “And it is less expensive to build initially than to try to come back and add on and make it all work.”

Producers may choose to build only what they need now but then plan for the additional facilities in the future. Creating an overall long-range plan will help producers ensure their future building projects move forward with fewer complications. 


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