Housing Capacity when Preparing a NMS

New or Expanding Barns

When a farmer builds a new barn or expands an existing barn, the regulation requires that the farmer provide sufficient manure storage based on the maximum number of animals that can be housed in the new or expanded barn. 

By default, the housing capacity of the barn is calculated using the factor provided in Table 1 of the Nutrient Management Tables.  This number is shown in AgriSuite as the Estimated Barn Area. There are, however, a number of factors that could change the maximum number of animals that can be housed in a new or expanded barn. The most common reasons for this include:

  • An alternative production system, such as “humane” or “organic”
  • Expanded housing requirements imposed by livestock commodity boards
  • An alternative housing system, such as a composting bedded pack
  • Large areas of the barn used for non-livestock housing
    • Dairy Robot areas
    • Offices
    • Feedrooms – etc.

It is important that when a Nutrient Management Strategy (NMS) is being prepared that the livestock housing capacity and estimated barn area is assessed to ensure the manure storages are sized to the maximum capacity of the barn. If the Estimated Barn Area in AgriSuite is significantly different than the actual area of the barn, ensure that a clear explanation/documentation is provided. Examples may include a barn schematic showing the livestock housing areas and non-livestock areas of a facility or an explanation of the production system that will be used and documentation of the square footage per animal required.

Each proposal where the number of animals kept in the barn is less than expected will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.  It is important that the producer understands that the manure storages are sized based on a reduced number of animals in an alternative production system.  The producer must understand that if the production system changes in the future and increased manure is produced, they may be required to build more storage to meet the requirements of the regulation.

Existing Barns

When a project involves using an existing barn for livestock housing, the nutrient management strategy must show that there is sufficient manure storage based on the projected usage of the barn. When preparing a NMS it is important to assess the estimated barn area and clearly state the maximum number of animals that will be housed in existing barns and explain any significant differences from what is expected. An example of an explanation may include that an existing barn has been retrofitted and more area exists than will be used.

Manure Production and Land base Requirements

The regulation requires that a livestock farm have enough land base to responsibly manage the manure that it produces, which may be different than the amount of manure that is produced when the barn is at capacity. The amount of manure produced can be estimated using the factors in the Nutrient Management Tables or be based on records kept by the farmer.

When reviewing a NMS, OMAFRA must ensure that if the farm is proposing to land apply manure, then the farm has sufficient landbase to receive that quantity of manure responsibly.  This determination is based on the amount of manure generated by the number of animals that will be housed in the barn when the project is completed, which may be less than the maximum amount of animals that can be housed in the barn. A NMS is prepared for a 5 year period of time, landbase to manage the maximum amount of manure produced in the 5 years is required.

There are a number of reasons why the barn will not be filled to capacity immediately upon completion.  Some common reasons for this include:

  • A planned phased expansion, such as acquiring production quota and filling the barn to capacity over time.
  • A custom raising or boarding facility that needs to develop a customer base over time.

When a farmer proposes to manage the manure generated by their livestock through land application, they must show that they have enough land to manage the manure generated by the number of animals that are actually housed at the farm.  As the number of animals increase over time, it is the responsibility of the farmer to ensure that they have enough land to responsibly manage the manure generated by their animals at that time. The NMS should provide high level details on how the future additional manure will be managed, example, more land will be rented or manure will be Brokered off the Farm Unit.

Reviewed 10/25/2018


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This Project is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs