Date of this Version



© 1996, The Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska on behalf of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension. All rights reserved.


An abandoned animal feeding facility is a significant threat to the environment. Procedures to minimize the risk are discussed.

Feedlot abandonment occurs for various reasons, including economic and social changes, environmental concerns, consolidation for more cost effective management and operation, and modification of personal goals. Whether a feedlot is abandoned for a short time until some crisis passes, or permanently, steps are necessary to minimize the risk of environmental degradation.

Under both scenarios, an abandoned feedlot poses an immediate threat to surface and groundwater quality. The unused facility is also a potential nuisance and source of health problems for humans and animals.

The purpose of this NebGuide is to identify guidelines that will minimize environmental risk associated with feedlot abandonment. No matter how long the period of non-use is expected to be, manure should be removed to minimize transport of manure from the site via runoff and the risk of groundwater pollution. In all instances the risk of accidental entry into manure storages and holding ponds by animals and people must be minimized.

Abandonment for periods exceeding one to two months during spring, summer or fall requires steps to control weeds and insects. Abandonment during any time of year dictates a need for rodent control in pens, feeding areas, and around feed storage facilities. With long-term or permanent abandonment, the challenge is to return the lot area to productive crop growth in the shortest feasible time.