Controlling Feedlot Dust

Cattle laze around the feedlot during the heat of the day but when they start moving later in the afternoon, they kick up a lot of dust and dried manure. When the wind goes down, it just hangs in the air. It’s a nuisance, can cause animal health and performance issues, and make your neighbors cranky if they’re covered with it.

Larry Howard is an extension educator at the University of Nebraska. He says you can’t remove these particles from the air, but there are a couple of things you can do to minimize it.

"Be out there routinely maintaining those pens with box scrapers or some kind of mechanism to scrape that dust off of those pens. A lot of producers will then stockpile that dust and then they’ll haul it to the field location when the crops are out of the field. And then the other thing that we want to make sure that we do is to have a good, hard surface," says Howard. "A pen surface that’s got compacted manure or soil there will help minimize some of those dust occurrences."

Your other ally in the war on dust is water. And, it also provides another benefit.

"The prime time for dust is also the time that we have heat stress in our cattle so adding water will not only help the pen surface, but it will also help cool some of those cattle in heat stress situations," he says. "And that can be applied by either a sprinkler system, sometimes there’s mobile units like a water truck that can be used to moisten that surface."

There is a fine line – put down too much water and you’ll have a muddy mess. Another dust mitigation option is having vegetative barriers such as a windbreak or shelterbelt. They help capture some of the airborne particles.

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