Small Scale Livestock Production: Homework Questions



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Small Scale Livestock Production:

Homework Questions



  1. Open-Ended Questions




  1. What does it mean to be a good environmental steward when raising livestock?

Being an environmental steward involves making choices that are aimed at sustaining your natural resource base, including your production animals. When raising livestock, this includes using best management practices for manure and pasture management, properly disposing of your animal mortalities, monitoring and managing storm water runoff from your operation, mitigating dust and odors, and maintaining quality housing and animal environments. Environmental stewardship is related to, and can have an effect on, biosecurity, animal health, and food safety and quality. (Note to instructor: as an open ended or essay question a variety of answers will be acceptable.)


  1. Name 5 things you can do that will help keep your flock/herd healthy.

Keeping your animals healthy will require you to provide adequate space and ventilation, clean housing and bedding, access to water at all times, nutritionally complete food, appropriate vaccinations and veterinary care, and protection from predators and extreme weather conditions.


  1. What is Exotic Newcastle Disease?

Exotic Newcastle Disease (END) is one of the world’s most devastating viral diseases in poultry that affects the birds’ respiratory, nervous, and digestive systems. It is contagious and fatal if birds are not vaccinated and most will die without showing any symptoms of disease.


  1. What is scrapie?

Scrapie is a fatal, degenerative disease that affects the central nervous system of sheep (and sometimes goats). It is prion disease similar to mad cow disease in cattle and Chronic Wasting Disease. Even though there is no evidence that scrapie can spread to humans, there is a concern about its potential to spread to humans.


  1. What are some types of records you can expect to keep for your flock/herd?

To monitor both animal and financial health for your operation, you should keep all records of animal purchases and sales, equipment and housing costs, as well as feed, veterinary and breeding records for each animal.


  1. How can you determine the nutrient content of your manure?

You can determine the nutrient content of your manure by taking frequent samples to send in for a manure analysis report, which can be done through accredited soil testing agents. This in turn will allow you to apply it at an agronomic rate, thereby maximizing its fertilizer value and minimizing the potential for nutrient pollution.


  1. What are some of the possible impacts of high ammonia levels in a poultry house to both the flock and humans?

Ammonia in high concentrations in livestock houses can cause serious health problems to both the flock and to humans. It can cause respiratory and immune system problems, irritate the conjunctivae and cornea in the eyes, and have a negative impact on the overall vitality of the flock.


  1. What is the USDA’s Cost Share Program for organic producers?

The USDA Cost Share Program is a non-competitive program that reimburses a portion of the cost involved in obtaining USDA Organic certification.


  1. How far away should you keep manure from a water source?

As a general guideline, keep livestock operations should be kept at least 500 feet away from a public water supply and 150 downhill of wells, even if they are abandoned. However, every state may have different guidelines, so check with your state and local regulatory authorities to make sure that you will be in compliance.


  1. In the following list, what step is missing for safe egg handling? Washing, sanitizing, grading, labeling, refrigerating, transporting.

Candling, which should be done right after sanitizing. Candling is done in a darkened room with the egg held before a light. The light penetrates the egg and makes it possible to observe the inside of the egg. This helps determine the condition of the air cell, yolk, and white. It detects bloody whites, blood spots, or meat spots, and enables observation of germ development.


  1. What temperature do eggs need to be held at if they are not going to be processed for 48 hours?

Eggs should be stored at 45°F or less if they are to be held for 36 hours or more before processing.


  1. What is FSIS and what do they do?

The Food Safety and Inspection Service is a USDA agency responsible for keeping the commercial supply of meat, eggs, and poultry products in the United States safe, wholesome, and correctly labeled and packaged.


  1. What does the Egg Safety Action Plan require from producers?

The Egg Safety Action Plan is a U.S. FDA regulation that requires producers to take preventive measures during the production of eggs in poultry houses and requires subsequent refrigeration during storage and transportation. This regulation was put in place to prevent foodborne illnesses and deaths caused by eggs contaminated with the bacterium Salmonella.




  1. Name five examples of on-farm food safety practices for a livestock operation.

  1. Keep livestock and manure storage areas away from wells and other water sources

  2. Document the source of the compost, the composition, and the process by which it was produced

  3. Store manure 150 to 200 feet away from crops meant for human consumption or their handling areas (such as a vegetable washing and packing station).

  4. Prevent cross-contamination between raw and finished compost by using separate equipment for handling and/or application.

  5. Transport livestock to sale or processing facilities in clean vehicles

  6. Keep all meat and dairy products at correct temperatures during transportation, handling and storage

  7. Train any employees in safe handling practices such as hand washing, tool/equipment cleaning and sanitizing, animal management, and food production and storage




  1. According to your state/county regulations, how should you dispose of dead livestock?

Although disposal of dead livestock varies by state and county, typical methods include rendering the animal within 48 hours, composting in a pile or bin that reaches temperatures of 130-150°F for an extended period of time, burying 300 feet away from a watercourse and above the wet season high water-table and with adequate soil cover, or burying at a licensed landfill. You should always verify approved disposal methods for your location.


  1. How can zoning define the types of livestock you raise on your property?

An area of your county or municipality that was not originally zoned for livestock may limit or prohibit livestock production entirely or may limit you to certain practices or species. Furthermore, unless your area is zoned for agricultural uses, you may also need a permit in order to keep animals on your property.


  1. What is an EIN and why do you need it?

An EIN is an Employer Identification Number, which you need only if you are hiring employees to work in your livestock business. You can obtain an EIN through the Internal Revenue Service.

II. True/False Questions


  1. True/False: Milk should be stored between 38-45°F.

False. Milk should be stored between 33 and 41°F.


  1. True/False: In order to sell meat in any market, it must be USDA graded.

False. Grading of meat is optional. However, you do need to use a USDA/FSIS-certified processing plant to sell your meat across state lines. In addition, you may use a state inspected plant meeting USDA/FSIS standards to sell within your state or to the same markets as conventional meats such as farmers’ markets, or to restaurants and wholesalers. Packaged meat for sale must have a USDA stamp indicating that it was processed in a federally or state inspected plant. If you are processing an animal for consumption by the owner of the animal, this meat does not require USDA inspection during slaughter and processing – it is considered custom-exempt, meaning you may use a processor that does not undergo continuous inspection. Custom-exempt plants still undergo annual inspections of their recordkeeping and sanitation practices by federal and state food safety inspectors. The meat or poultry from a custom-exempt plant cannot be sold elsewhere, and can only be consumed by the owner of the animal, the owner’s immediate family, or any non-paying guests. All custom processed meat and poultry must be labeled with “NOT FOR SALE.”


  1. True/False: Animal Welfare Approved certification is one of the most expensive certifications a producer can get.

False. Animal Welfare Approved is a free certification program.


  1. True/False: Certifications can be useful marketing tools.

True. Consumers are increasingly interested in how livestock are raised, handled & processed.


  1. True/False: It is permissible for excess nitrogen in the form of nitrates to leach into the environment because the plants downhill will benefit from them.

False. Nitrogen is water soluble and mobile in the environment. When over-applied (as commercial fertilizer or from manure) nitrogen compounds can leach into contaminated groundwater, and surface water. High nitrates in drinking water are a human and animal health risk. High ammonia in surface water can cause fish and aquatic animal kills. Finally nitrogen compounds in surface water can also promote eutrophication; i.e.: rapid growth and death of aquatic plants and algae resulting in low oxygen or “dead” water.




  1. Questions to Research on Your Own




  1. Does your local farmers’ market require its vendors to carry their own liability insurance policy on products they sell?


  1. Does your county require vendors to get a retail food establishment license for selling packaged meat in any location?


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