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Cleaning Overwinter Sites in Dairy Farms    

Natalie Rector
Extension Nutrient Management Educator

Some dairy cattle are overwintered outside. After several months of congregating around bale and supplement feeders, both manure and wasted feed accumulate. Both have nutrients that are better utilized for crop production than leaving them vulnerable to spring runoff.

Despite the unusually mild winter  it is pretty certain that there will be spring rainfalls. Taking time to gather and haul wasted feed and manure from outside wintering lots will reduce the risks of spring weather washing these nutrients to any nearby surface waters.

Other options include moving feeders on a frequent basis thereby letting the cattle move the manure around the field for you. Reseeding these areas this spring will maintain vegetation for livestock, take up left-over nutrients, outcompete weeds, and reduce soil erosion.

Location of overwintering areas is the first guard against surface protection.

No one wants wintering lots in a low area, but when selecting a small grade to put them on be sure that there is either a good distance of vegetation prior to reaching any surface water, berms that divert runoff from the waters or better yet, there is no surface water down grade of the lot areas.

* Articles by Natalie Rector were published in MSU Extension News on Feb. 7, 2012. The MSU Extension News Website (http://news.msue.msu.edu) is updated daily to provide relevant information available from MSU Extension educators throughout the state and at MSU. Email notification of recent articles published in MSU Extension News can be requested. Digests are available for 17 ag-related topics, including Dairy Production, Field Crops Production, and Business.

For a complete listing of Right-to-Farm guidelines for manure, visit


Michigan Dairy Review is published and mailed to all Michigan dairy farmers and individuals working in allied industries. With its ever increasing on-line presence, the MDR target audience has spread beyond Michigan and the U.S.; today electronic subscribers are located in places such as Australia, The Scandinavia, Italy, Mexico, Ireland, Peru, and New Zealand.  

The MDR is the primary communications vehicle for research findings, extension programming, and teaching between faculty and staff in MSU dairy programs and the dairy industry. The MDR web site is paid for by the C. E. Meadows Endowment.

April 2012 Topics

Grassland Renovation

Right-to-Farm: Site Selection [2]

Manure Setbacks

Weather Provides Opportunity

Cleaning Overwinter Sites

MSU Extension Educational Sessions

Dairy Farmers' Views of Dairy Policies

When is a Milk Price a "Good" Milk Price?

2012 Employment Taxes

Detecting Mycoplasma Mastitis

Communication with Consumers

New Scholaships for Dairy Students

Dairy Students Awarded Over $95,000

Real-world Experience Via Internship