Submitted to: Encyclopedia of Animal Science
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/11/2006
Publication Date: 4/1/2007
Citation: Cole, N.A., Brown, M.S., Varel, V.H. 2007. Beef Cattle - Manure Management. In: Bell, A.W., Pond, W.G., editors. Encyclopedia of Animal Science. Taylor and Francis, 1(1):1-4.
Interpretive Summary: There is growing concern about the effects of beef cattle feeding operations on the environment. The United States beef cattle industry is comprised of three segments: cow-calf, stocker, and finishing. During the cow/calf and stocker phases, feces and urine are primarily deposited on pastures. This is normally not an environmental concern, however, they can be a potential hazard in environmentally sensitive areas. During the finishing phase cattle are concentrated in feedlots. The high density of animals in feedlots can potentially lead to losses of nutrients, pathogens, endotoxins, and pharmacologically active compounds to the air, surface water, or ground water. Thus, preventing losses of excreted nutrients and compounds to the environment and the safe removal of manure are significant environmental concerns to feedlots. Federal (the Clean Water Act et al.) and State regulations are designed to prevent manure nutrient losses from feedlots to surface and ground waters; however, there is potential for losses when manure is applied to pastures or fields. The atmospheric emissions of greatest concern vary with location but are generally dust, odors, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, and methane. Feedlot air pollutants can originate from the cattle pens, manure stockpiles, the feed mill, retention ponds, and via normal animal metabolism. Proper pen, manure, and nutritional management can help to reduce these losses and make feedlot manure a more usable by-product of beef cattle production. Cattle producers will need to balance production efficiency with environmental effects in making management decisions.
Technical Abstract: There is growing concern about the effects of livestock operations on the environment. These revolve around the potential loss of nutrients, pathogens, endotoxins, and pharmacologically active compounds to the air, surface waters, or ground water. Proper pen surface management and nutrition can help to reduce these losses and make manure a more usable by-product of cattle production. Producers will need to balance production efficiency with environmental effects in making management decisions.