|Feeding Operation||en español|
What are feeding operations?
Animal feeding operations (AFOs) are places where animals are kept and raised in confined situations. These operations confine hogs, cattle, dairy animals, or poultry in a small area of land and also keep animal food, manure, dead animals, and production operations in the same area. The animals’ food is brought to them, and no crops or vegetation are grown in the area where the animals are kept.
Concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), sometimes called “factory farms,” are animal feeding operations that keep large numbers of animals and discharge pollution into water that passes through or near the operation. CAFOs are defined as large, medium, or small, depending on the number of animals they confine. For example, a ‘large’ CAFO is defined by the Environmental Protection Agency as a single operation with at least 700 dairy cows or 10,000 swine or 125,000 chickens or 55,000 turkeys.
The large amounts of animal waste at these operations can threaten water supplies. Waste can be kept in waste lagoons, which can burst and overflow after heavy storms, sending animal waste into water sources and areas where people live. Animal waste and wastewater from animal feeding operations can contaminate ground water through seepage, spills, or breaks in waste storage structures. Water runoff from animal feeding operations can pollute bodies of water with bacteria, viruses, nutrients, and solids.
Animal feeding operations can emit air pollutants, including ammonia, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, methane, nitrous oxide, particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, and other hazardous air pollutants.
This description is based on the information found in the Web links listed with this topic.
Web Links from MedlinePlus (National Library of Medicine)
Animal Diseases and Your Health
Animal Feeding Operations (AFOs) (Environmental Protection Agency)
Avian Flu - Poultry Employees (Occupational Safety and Health Administration)
Biosecurity for Birds (US Department. of Agriculture)
CAFOs and Public Health: Pathogens and Manure (Purdue University) (PDF — 280.92 KB)
Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) home page (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Potential Environmental Impacts of Animal Feeding Operations (Environmental Protection Agency)
Last Updated: January 30, 2017