Siting And Managing Wintering Sites

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Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development (AARD) would like to remind operators that wintering sites must be sited and managed to protect surface water and are regulated under the Agricultural Operation Practices Act (AOPA).

With the warmer temperatures we ve had this fall, it s hard to imagine that winter is just around the corner and livestock operators will soon be thinking about feeding and bedding their livestock for the winter, says Deanne Madsen, confined feeding operation (CFO) extension specialist, AARD, Morinville.

Site selection and management of wintering sites, otherwise known as seasonal feeding and bedding sites or overwintering areas, are very important to a livestock operation. Understandably no two wintering sites are the same, but the end goal should be to provide an economical, comfortable and healthy wintering site for livestock without compromising surface water and groundwater quality.

According to the AOPA, wintering sites must be located at least 30 metres away from a common body of water. If this cannot be achieved, the operator must either design the site to divert runoff away from the common body of water or move the accumulated manure and bedding to an appropriate location away from the common body of water prior to a runoff event.

Just as livestock operators should take into consideration the proximity of surface water when deciding to locate their wintering sites, they might also think of other factors to help minimize the risk of water contamination, says Madsen. Such factors could include selecting a site that is sloped away from a water course or water body and diverting upslope surface water around the site to reduce the amount of runoff. Other site selection factors include avoiding high water tables, flood-prone areas, and porous soils (such as gravel and sand).

Management also plays a key role in reducing environmental risk from wintering sites. Operators might want to evaluate last winter s methods for feeding, bedding and watering the livestock to reduce manure accumulations thereby minimizing nutrient build up in surface runoff this upcoming season.

For more information on the regulatory requirements for wintering sites, and manure management in general, contact the nearest confined feeding operation extension specialist by calling 310-FARM (3276). Information is also available by searching the term AOPA legislation on Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development s webpage at www.agriculture. alberta.ca.

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Siteselectionandmanagementofwinteringsites, otherwiseknownasseasonalfeedingandbedding sitesoroverwinteringareas,areveryimportanttoa livestockoperation.

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