Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Water - Another Reason to attend this CAFO meeting

No matter where you live in Jasper county, there is one MORE VERY IMPORTANT REASON to attend the BZA CAFO meeting coming up Monday night -- 7:00 pm at the Rensselaer High School...


Weaned dairy heifers (calves) consume approximately 1 to 1.5 gallons
of water per day per 100 pounds of body weight.

See http://osuextra.okstate.edu/pdfs/F-4275web.pdf

According to "Estimating water requirements" Worksheet 1:
See http://www.oneplan.org/Stock/WaterNeeds.pdf

And Fresh Water Needs for Dairy Farms
See http://www.oneplan.org/Stock/DairyWater.shtml

Heifers (calves) Average Weights Are:
16-24 months - 1050 lbs
13-15 months - 800 lbs
9-12 months - 600 lbs
5-8 months - 400 lbs
3-4 months - 250 lbs
0-2 months - 150 lbs

So... take 13,000 calves in a small area, ranging in weight from 150 to 400 pounds... on an average day, you can expect them to drink anywhere from the bare minimum of 19,500 gallons of water (if they all only drank 1 gal/day and were only 150 pounds or less) to as much as 78,000 gallons of water (if they drank 1.5 gal/day and averaged 400 pounds) --- that's just drinking water -- PER DAY!!

If they were all 400 lbs:
1.5 gal x 400 x 13,000 / 100 = 78,000 gallons PER DAY
1 gallon x 400 x 13,000 / 100 = 52,000 gallons PER DAY

If they were all 250 lbs:
1.5 gal x 250 x 13,000 / 100 = 48,750 gallons PER DAY
1 gallon x 250 x 13,000 / 100 = 32,500 gallons PER DAY

If they were all 150 lbs:
1.5 gal x 150 x 13,000 /100 = 29,250 gallons PER DAY
1 gallon x 150 x 13,000 / 100 = 19,500 gallons PER DAY

You can bump those numbers up anywhere from one to three gallons per day per heiffer on hot days where temperatures reach 80 degrees or higher.

So, on a hot summer day when many farmers are irrigating their crops, you can also see anywhere from 39,000 gallons to as much as 234,000 gallons per day being consumed by the calves.

That's just drinking water.

This does NOT count water required for farm maintenance and other parts of their operation. They will not have lagoons to use recycled water for some of the maintenance water requirements like washing pens, etc. Holding pens with sprinkler cow washers can use an average of 47.1 ± 17.7 gallons per cow per day.

If they are intending to use sprinkler cow washers, you can estimate anywhere between another 612,300 gallons to as high as 842,400 gallons of water used -- PER DAY!!

That's just the heifer requirements. I'm not talking about other water uses for day to day operations here. Okay, maybe those estimates for "maintenance use" aren't on the conservative side, and, since they won't be milking at the operation (?) maybe they won't be cleaning the heifers (or sprinkler cooling them) as much as a full blown Dairy CAFO with milking parlors would have to? Not sure...

About our watershed.

Interestingly enough, the location of this facility will be on top of a very unique split in the bedrock system for the Kankakee River Basin (see Water Availability Maps for the lower basin).

The location sits atop what is known as "Devonian Antrim Shale" -- aka black shale.

The few wells completed in this shale unit can only produce less than 15 gallons per minute (gpm), according to DNR Division of Water. DNR Division of Water also state,

"It is an unlikely source for greater amounts of water."

That's the side we live on. It's also the side where the hog CAFO was built this past year, and which is now sucking out tens of thousands of gallons of our freshwater supply -- PER DAY.

The other side sits atop SILURIAN AND DEVONIAN CARBONATE (limestone, dolomite, and dolomitic limestone). This is the principle bedrock aquifer in the Kankakee basin (over by Fair Oaks) and "the only bedrock aquifer capable of supporting high-capacity pumpage." Many large-diameter wells produce 300 to 1000 gallons per minute (gpm), but small-diameter domestic wells produce 10 to 30 gpm.

Now, the original application for this calving operation indicated:

5,000 calves to be housed in the poultry barns and bubble barns for 8,000 more.

This was replaced, I think(?), with a different application for just 5,000 calves. But there was a different application which in total indicated 10,000 calves.

Confusing, right? In my humble opinion, that's just sloppy paperwork in order to rush this deal through.

You can simply adjust the numbers for water requirements accordingly -- but any way you look at it, that's one heck of a heavy burden on our aquifer!

Keep in mind -- these guys (den Dulks) are already sucking HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of gallons of freshwater DAILY from our aquifer over at Fair Oaks.

Maybe they don't know about the bi-State Agreements between Indiana and Illinois regarding this particular watershed.

Maybe they don't know about the water protection laws that were put in place owing to water disputes in Jasper and Newton counties that happened in the past.

Maybe they didn't read the notice sent out to dairy farmers in the midwest warning of drought conditions coming within the next 3 years or less.

Maybe they just don't care?

Personally, I feel they should be paying a water tax (calculated per head of dairy cow) for every single farm they own in Jasper County.

Maybe -- just maybe -- a public official should start counting how many head of cattle they actually house on their farms?


Ellie said...

K, It is interesting that you should comment on Fair Oaks hiding the true condition of their dairy cows. I was on a bus with 70 other people. This was one of the tours they give twice an hour. We drove down the middle of an alley like the one from your blog pictures. It is also interesting to note the activities you pointed out. Eating drinking and laying down are all behaviors a cow vetrinarian looks for as signs of good health and contentment. I know this since I grew up on a small dairy farm. Please, make an effort to check what you consider common knowledge. Your credibility truly is questionable.

kmyers said...

You're absolutely right Ellie -- "Eating drinking and laying down are all behaviors a cow vetrinarian looks for as signs of good health and contentment."

And, according to the Humane Society, here are other signs for contented cows.

The picture showing cows "eating, drinking and laying down" is taken directly from a Fair Oaks training manual -- a picture taken by them inside one of their CAFO facilities.

I did not "point out" where cows were laying, standing, eating or drinking. Those are their markings on the picture. From what I've seen in most of their publicity documents, they always seem to do their best to give the appearance of happy cows.

Having several years experience in professional ad copy writing, I know what the job entails -- and understand the use and art of subliminal advertising as well.

The "Fair Oaks" Disneyland-like tour provided to visitors with the wonderful life-size indoor scene depicting statues of cows grazing peacefully in bright green pastures with a bright red barn in the background is NOT representative of their Confined Feeding Operations.

During your bus ride to the farm, how many cows did you see grazing peacefully on those acres and acres of land surrounding the barns where the bulk of their herds are confined?

A CAFO calving operation is different. I'm actually quite curious to see the kind of ad copy writing they use to promote it, should this one be approved by the Jasper County BZA. It might prove to be a challenging job for their writers.

These are CAFOs ... not small dairy farms by any stretch of the imagination. But I find it interesting how they try to plant a different picture in visitors' minds -- even to the extent of building that tour display.

By the way, I am all in favor of small dairy farms (when they are managed responsably). I am NOT in favor of confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs aka mass animal factory farms) -- for many, many reasons.

Have you read the report titled "Stop - Look - Listen"
published by the Compassion in World Farming Trust?

Here's a very short excerpt:

"In 1997 the concept of animal sentience was written into the basic law of the European Union. The legally-binding protocol annexed to the Treaty of Amsterdam recognises that animals are ‘sentient beings’, and requires the EU and its members to ‘pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals’. What this is saying is that animal welfare has to be taken into account because the animals are sentient, capable of feeling pain and of suffering. In other words it matters to them how they are treated."

I'm guessing by your post that you enjoyed the tour?