Small Feedlots & Dairy Operations


This Web page provides a list of resources available to help small feedlot and dairy operations address environmental concerns caused by runoff from open lot animal housing systems. This page is supported in part by the Water Quality Initiatives for Small Iowa Beef and Dairy Feedlot Operations with funding support from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources through a grant from Section 319 funding, Region 7, EPA. The primary objectives of this project are to 1) educate producers to better understand the pollution potential of open feedlots; 2) train producers to accurately assess the water pollution potential of their feedlots; 3) assist producers to identify and evaluate appropriate runoff control alternatives; and 4) provide technical assistance to producers to implement solutions that improve the environmental performance of their feedlots.

For the purpose of this Web page, the term "small feedlots and dairy operations" will be defined as beef or dairy operations that house less than 1,000 animal units (1,000 head beef or immature dairy or 700 head mature dairy) in an unroofed feedlot type situation. Some “small” beef or dairy operations may be classified as “Medium CAFOs” if they meet size requirements and one of two discharge criteria (See Medium CAFO Summary Fact Sheet below), or some “small feedlots” may be "Small CAFOs". If you have more than 1,000 animal units of any one animal type in an open lot, please refer to the Open Feedlot Web page. Or if you have animals of one type that are housed in both an open feedlot and a confinement facility and the capacity exceeds 1,000 animal units, please refer to the Combined Confinement and Open Lot Operations Web page. Both are linked on the IMMAG website.

ISU Extension and Outreach has partnered with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to place water quality testing kits for ammonia in 20 county extension offices. The list of counties is provided below. These kits are available for livestock producers to use to check water quality in streams below their feedlots and cow yards. The test kits come with an instructional video and a fact sheet on water quality testing and impacts, links to both resources are provided below. The results of this water testing are confidential and livestock producers are not required to share this information. This testing can help identify if runoff is reaching a stream and the potential impact on aquatic life.



Assessment Tools

Manure Nutrient Management


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Partners in the Water Quality Initiatives for Small Iowa Beef and Dairy Feedlot Operations


This Webpage is part of the Water Quality Initiatives for Small Iowa Beef and Dairy Feedlot Operations project, supported in part by a section 319 grant through the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 7.