Cattle operations criticized over wastewater

By Gary Mitchell

Cows have long had homes in eastern New Mexico, in pastures and feedlots. So why are environmentalists concerned about dairy farms?
“Feedlots tend not to be generating a large volume of wastewater,” said Maura Hanning, program manager for groundwater pollution prevention for the New Mexico Environment Department.
“Dairies are the big wastewater producers.”
Don Oppliger, owner of Oppliger Feed Yards, said the only water his feedlot uses goes strictly for animal consumption, compared to dairies using water to clean equipment and wash the udders of the cows.
“No wastewater is produced here at all. The only water we have to contend with is rainfall or snowfall,” he said.
The manure produced by the feedlot operation is converted to fertilizer and spread over the crops used to help feed the animals, Oppliger said.
“We only put it on our fields, and we use the same guidelines as commercial fertilizers,” he said.