Iowa’s open feedlots are places where animals are kept in unroofed or partially roofed areas. To be considered an open feedlot, animals are fed and maintained in pens for at least 45 days in a one-year period. Open lots controlled by the same owner that are less than 1,250 feet apart may also be considered one operation. Unlike animals on pasture, manure from the open lot animals is concentrated and the ground is bare of vegetation.
Most open feedlots need some type of solids settling and need to apply manure in a way that will not pollute Iowa streams. Larger lots that have an animal unit capacity of more than 1,000 animal units may also need a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. Some intermediate size lots may need an NPDES permit if a stream runs through the lot or there is a man-made conveyance for discharging to a stream.
Livestock producers who have animals in both confinement (totally roofed) and open feedlot (partially roofed or unroofed) facilities face a somewhat more complex situation than producers who have only one type of housing. They may need a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit required by federal regulations if a discharge would be expected from the facility. A non-discharging open feedlot that is part of a combined operation will need to follow state regulations for open feedlots. The confinement portion of the operation will need to follow state regulations when operating or building a confinement facility. These combined facility situations can be confusing and complex, so producers are encouraged to contact their local DNR field office to ensure the correct requirements are being followed.