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Home > Animals & Livestock > Livestock Siting & Planning > Feedlot Decision Making Tool > Flow Chart Matrix

Flow Chart Matrix for the Decision Making Tool

NPDES/SDS Permits – Deciding which one is right for you: This flow chart is designed to show requirements. Producers may opt to apply for an NPDES permit over an SDS permit if an SDS permit is technically all that is required. While the law/rule indicates when an SDS permit is required and an NPDES permit is not, each producer should spend considerable amount of time determining if they are comfortable with that level of risk. For example, NPDES permits for the protection from citizen lawsuits if a large storm events or accident causes a discharge. In reality, each site at the large CAFO level will be required to do the same things as far as record keeping, either as part of their NPDES permit or if they wish to claim the ag storm water exemption (if they only have a SDS permit) so the amount of work will be the same. Annual fees will be the same and the only difference will be the SDS permit will be good for 10 years versus the 5 years of the NPDES.


Animal Unit: "Animal unit" is a Minnesota statutory term that means a unit of measure used to compare differences in the production of animal manure that employs as a standard the amount of manure produced on a regular basis. An animal unit is calculated by multiplying the number of animals of each type in items A to I by the respective multiplication factor and summing the resulting values for the total number of animal units. For purposes of this chapter, the following multiplication factors shall apply:

  1. one mature cow, whether milked or dry over 1,000 pounds, 1.4 animal units
  2. one mature cow, whether milked or dry under 1,000 pounds, 1.0 animal units
  3. one heifer, 0.7 animal unit
  4. one calf, 0.2 animal unit
  5. one slaughter steer or stock cow, 1.0 animal units
  6. one feeder cattle (stocker or backgrounding) or heifer, 0.7 animal unit
  7. one cow and calf pair, 1.2 animal unit
  8. one calf, 0.2 animal unit
  9. one head of swine, over 300 pounds, 0.4 animal unit
  10. one head of swine, between 55 pounds and 300 pounds, 0.3 animal unit
  11. one head of swine, under 55 pounds, 0.05 animal unit
  12. one horse, 1.0 animal unit
  13. one sheep or lamb, 0.1 animal unit
  14. one laying hen or broiler, if the facility has a liquid manure system, 0.033 animal unit
  15. one chicken, if the facility has a dry manure system over five pounds, 0.005 animal unit
  16. one chicken, if the facility has a dry manure system under five pounds, 0.003 animal unit;
  17. one turkey, over five pounds, 0.018 animal unit
  18. one turkey, under five pounds, 0.005 animal unit;
  19. one duck, 0.01 animal unit
  20. for animals not listed in items A to H, the number of animal units is the average weight of the animal in pounds divided by 1,000 pounds.

Note: Some local governments use different calculations when permitting livestock facilities. If they choose to use values more restrictive than the state, check with your local county office to make sure this definition applies.

Large Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO): The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not use animal units to determine its CAFO definition, it utilizes actual ANIMAL NUMBERS. Any numbers of animals exceeding the following are considered CAFO’s.

  • 700 mature dairy cattle, whether milked or dry
  • 1,000 veal calves
  • 1,000 cattle other than mature dairy cows or veal calves. Cattle includes, but is not limited to heifers, steers, bulls, and cow/calf pairs
  • 2,500 swine each weighing 55 pounds or more
  • 10,000 swine each weighing less than 55 pounds
  • 500 horses
  • 10,000 sheep or lambs
  • 55,000 turkeys
  • 30,000 laying hens or broilers if the CAFO uses a liquid manure handling system
  • 125,000 chickens, other than laying hens, if the CAFO uses other than a liquid manure handling system
  • 82,000 laying hens, if the CAFO uses other than a liquid manure handling system
  • 30,000 ducks if the CAFO uses other than a liquid manure handling system
  • 5,000 ducks if the CAFO uses a liquid manure handling system

Medium and Small Concentrated Animal Feedling Operations (CAFO): EPA also has definitions for Medium and Small CAFO’s, but this status is designated by the MPCA. If your feedlot is designated as a medium or small CAFO, then an NPDES permit is required.

Delegated County: Delegated Counties are counties delegated by the MPCA to administer the feedlot rules for all feedlots not requiring a federal NPDES permit or a Minnesota SDS Permit. The MPCA administers all feedlot rules for counties that are not delegated.

Counties that ARE delegated are as follows:

Big Stone Faribault Lake of the Woods Mower Pope Swift
Blue Earth Fillmore Le Sueur Murray Red Lake Todd
Brown Freeborn Lincoln Nicollet Renville Traverse
Carver Goodhue Lyon Nobles Rice Wadena
Clay Houston Marshall Norman Rock Waseca
Cottonwood Jackson Martin Pennington Sibley Watonwan
Dakota Kandiyohi McLeod Pipestone Stearns Winona
Dodge Kittson Meeker Polk East Steele Wright
Douglas Lac Qui Parle Morrison Polk West Stevens Yellow Medicine

Sensitive area:

Sensitive areas defined in Minn. R. ch. 4410 are:

  • shoreland
  • a delineated flood plain, except that in the flood plain of the Red River of the North the sensitive area includes only land within 1,000 feet of the ordinary high water mark
  • a state or federally designated wild and scenic river district
  • the Minnesota River Project Riverbend area
  • the Mississippi River headwaters area
  • an area within a drinking water supply management area delineated under Minn. Stat. 4720 where the aquifer is identified in the wellhead protection plan as vulnerable to contamination
  • within 1,000 feet of a known sinkhole, cave, resurgent spring, disappearing spring, karst window, blind valley, or dry valley

Shoreland: "Shoreland" means land, as defined in Minn. Stat. 103F.205, subd. 4, located within the following distances from the ordinary high water elevation of public waters: land within 1,000 feet from the normal high water mark of a lake, pond, or flowage; and land within 300 feet of a river or stream or the landward side of floodplain delineated by ordinance on such a river or stream, whichever is greater.

Zero Discharge: Many facilities are not a pollution hazard but do not meet the “zero discharge” standard. Zero discharge is 100% containment of all manure and process wastewater. Manure treated through a filter strip does not meet zero discharge

EAW Note: In determining if environmental review is required, several other considerations are taken into account such as expanding a feedlot more than once in three years and also if there are any other feedlots under same ownership using same manure acreage within the same geographical location. These determinations are made by the MPCA and should be taken into account by the producer, even though they are not included in this flowchart.

Note: This flow chart is for informational purposes only. Please contact your local county feedlot officer, county zoning administrator, and MPCA representative to determine exactly what information and requirements will apply to your situation.

Enter the Flow Chart

MDA Contact

Livestock Development Team

Jim Ostlie, Livestock Specialist
jim.ostlie@state.mn.us, 320-842-6910

Kelly Anderson, Livestock Specialist
kelly.anderson@state.mn.us, 320-808-4424 

Ag Marketing & Development Division