I ran across an article in the Journal Sentinel yesterday titled “One-third of wells in Kewaunee County unsafe for drinking water” where the Wisconsin County has;
- 15 large-scale dairy farms, known as CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations)
- 98,000 cattle in the county (64% increase from 1983) The number of cows outnumber the inhabitants
- 700 or more milking cows per farm.
- 34% of the 320 randomly tested wells did not meet health standards for nitrates and total coliform, both of which can be found in manure(an increase from the countywide volunteer testing 2004-2015 29% of 620 wells)
- Cattle waste exceeds that of the total human population of Milwaukee (and is not cleaned by sewage treatment plants)
- 6 environmental groups petitioned the U.S. EPA to investigate water contamination (farmers opposed the petition)
BBC Report below …over 60% of the environmental burden of livestock in the US results from beef
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said that certain regions are not adequately protecting the drinking water supplies. Although it has been stated that it is too early to blame the cattle and their manure for these issues.
In a seemingly odd agreement and vote by the Kewanee county voters, they approved a halt to the spreading of manure between Jan 1st to April 15th. So what happens? The cattle also stop? Where does it go? It is retained in the pools of poop! Drive down I-65 south of Merrillville Indiana on the east side of the road between Crown Point and Rose lawn and you will see the newly constructed retention pond for animal waste (in this case I believe it is for swine).
In a BBC research report from the National Academy of Sciences, the bottom line was like this; “The overall environmental footprint of beef is particularly large because it combines a low production efficiency with very high volume,” said Prof Mark Sutton, from the UK’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. “The result is that the researchers estimate that over 60% of the environmental burden of livestock in the US results from beef. Although the exact numbers will be different for Europe (expecting a larger role of dairy), the overall message will be similar: Cattle dominate the livestock footprint of both Europe and US.”
As mentioned in my first post, I grew up most of my preteen and teenage years on a 20 acre farm. In my mid to late teens, a hatchery for baby chicks and a large chicken farm for production of eggs was being built (I was employed during the construction there). This chicken farm would house over 1 million chickens on the over 10 main egg production farms. This farm is less than 1 mile from where my mother resides today, and where I was raised. My mother still has the well from which was and still is today our/her only source of water to drink. She has had it tested on her own at the neighboring county hospital and has told me that there were no irregularities. She has yet provided me with the test results and the specific harmful water contaminants which were tested. Over 25 years of a million chickens shit quantified, just can’t be good!
This information is the beginning of a small fraction of the entirety of the CAFO issue. Consider the Chickens, Swine, and the byproducts processed from these large scale animal production lines (cream unused from milk, cheeses of all kinds, ugh, this is for a later blog)
In terminology of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):
A Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) is an animal feeding operation (AFO) that
1. Confines animals for more than 45 days during a growing season
2. In an area that does not produce vegetation
3. Meets certain size thresholds.
a production process that concentrates large numbers of animals in relatively small and confined places, and that substitutes structures and equipment (for feeding, temperature controls, and manure management) for land and labor.
257,000 AFOs in the United States (Approximately)
15,500 meet the more narrow criteria for CAFOs. The EPA has delineated three categories of CAFOs, ordered in terms of capacity:
1. Large – 1,000 or more cattle
2. Medium – 300–999 cattle
3. Small – 300 or less cattle
The relevant animal unit for each category varies depending on species and capacity.
The table below provides some examples of the size thresholds for CAFOs:
Animal Sector Cattle or cow/calf pairs Mature dairy cattle
Large 1,000 or more 700 or more
Medium 300–999 200–699
Small less than 300 less than 200
Chickens* Lg -125k or more Med – 37,500–124,999 Sm – less than 37.5k
Laying hens** Lg -82k or more Med – 25,000–81,999 less than 25k
* not than laying hens **other than a liquid manure handling systems