Michael Westendorf, Extension Specialist in Animal Sciences
Published 8/2006
Fact Sheet # 1047

Livestock owners need to be aware of their effect on our environment and natural resources. Regardless of the kind of livestock you have, proper management of animal and land resources are important to limit potential impact on natural resources. Take this quiz to determine how ecofriendly your livestock operation is.

A. Grazing and Pasture Management
(*add 3 points for each “yes” answer)

Yes No
1. Are your animals fenced at least 30 feet from ALL sensitive water features such as: well heads, creeks, streams, lakes, ponds, and wetlands?The area between the animals and water is called a buffer strip. Steeper slopes need wider strips and all buffer or filter strips
should have permanent vegetative cover. (Ideally, livestock should also be kept off septic systems to prevent compaction and  damage to the system.)
2. Is your buffer strip maintained in good vegetative cover like tall grass, not weeds? Trees and shrubs along surface water are  encouraged.
3. Do you use fences, crossings, and limited access points to control animal access to sensitive waters?
4. Do you drag or harrow manure in your permanent pastures?

B. Manure Storage
(*add 3 points for each “yes” answer)

Yes No
5. Is your animal manure stored at least 100 feet from sensitive water features?
6. Is the manure stored on a concrete pad or compact clay, or removed and disposed regularly (monthly)?

C. Nutrient Management
(*add 3 points for each “yes” answer)

Yes No
7. Is manure applied on soils in such a manner to prevent phosphorus levels from getting too high (e.g. soil tests results are within Rutgers University guidelines)?
8. Do you follow a formal manure management plan?
9. Is manure spread on land that has slight or moderate slopes (<8%) and is at least 100 feet from sensitive waters?
10. Is manure spread only during the growing season and not on frozen soils?

D. Clean Water
(*add 2 points for each “yes” answer)

Yes No
11. Is clean water from the barn roof or surrounding area directed away from the manure storage, animal lots, and bare soil?
12. Is the storm water from your property collected so it can infiltrate into the soil? This helps recharge our ground water.

E. Erosion Control
(*add 2 points for each “yes” answer)

Yes No
13. Are gullies on your property stabilized and soil erosion controlled?
14. Is the amount of bare soil on the property minimized, possibly through pasture seeding and management?
15. Is the runoff from bare and paved areas (e.g., arenas, driveways, and parking lots) filtered through a vegetative buffer strip?
16. (*add 1 point a piece if used)
     Buffers of borders around the fields
     Vegetative filters to prevent runoff into open bodies of water
     Terraces to limit erosion
     Strip cropping or contouring of fields
     Use of winter cover crops to prevent erosion

F. Feed Management
(*add 2 points for each “yes” answer)

Yes No
17. Do you manage milkhouse waste, silage waste, and excess or contaminated feed disposals to prevent contact with stormwater and/or other water sensitive areas?
18. Do you have feed bunks, mangers, and feeding areas that minimize feed contact with the ground and minimize stormwater contamination?
19. Do you reduce phosphorous level in the diet to minimize excretion of phosphorous?
20. Do you monitor the feed intake of your animals to prevent feed overconsumption and minimize waste?
21. Do you balance diets to minimize overfeeding nutrients?
22.What is the best description of how you feed your animals? (*add 1 point a piece; check only two)
     Try to balance diets with forages and concentrates
     Get advice from my feed store
     Get advice from Extension
     Use the services of a consulting nutritionist

Total Score


Points earned
(57 possible)
0-25 Poor Serious attention should be paid to correcting “no” answers.
25-35 Fair There is room for substantial improvement.
35-45 Good Good work – keep going.
45+ Very Good Outstanding Farm Management!

This survey is meant to give you a relative idea of your environmental risk. It is not meant to be a score of your overall management. However, if you score very low on the test, you may want to have a more thorough waste management plan of your farm completed. Please contact your local Extension agent. Rutgers Cooperative Extension is working closely with state and federal partners to assist producers with animal waste management. Your local agent will be able to refer you to the people who can give you more assistance.

Reference and adapted from:

Gilkerson, B. 2006. Is my barn eco-friendly? University of Minnesota Extension Service in Hennepin County. www.extension.umn.edu/ extensionnews/2005/ecofriendlybarn.html