How we Manage Manure and Water Runoff

Manure Matters

The farm started with the building on Ravine right at the bottom of the valley.  In the early 90’s, we started moving the cows to new barns farther up the hill.   The main reasons for doing this were overcrowding, poor ventilation, and we wanted sand bedding which was more comfortable and sanitary for the cows.


Vlietstra cows are clean, comfortable and happy in our newer barns on top of the hill.

In the old barn we had a manure storage structure and we pumped the manure in and out. If we used sand in that barn, it would have plugged up the outlets and the abrasiveness would ruin the pumps.   We also received many complaints about smell from our neighbors when we hauled manure because we hauled for a month three times a year.  The manure had a very strong odor from fermenting in the storage tank.

The other main reason for moving the cows up the hill was we were concerned if the storage tank broke or leaked it could run into Twin Lakes.   The new barn was sloped so any runoff would stay on our property and not run towards the lake.  We are able to handle the sand in the manure because we load it with a skid loader into a V-shaped spreader and haul it 3-4 days per week.


Marvin hauling manure and giving his granddaughter a ride in the tractor too.

Runoff Water

In 2015 we built a 3.5 million gallon concrete retaining pond to catch any remaining runoff water from our feed storage area and wash water from cleaning the milking parlor and equipment.

The retaining pond being build, July 2015

We purchased over 1300 yards of concrete for this project from Peterman Concrete and Waanders Concrete with contractors from Allegan, Battle Creek and Kalamazoo.  It was designed and overseen by a NRCS certified engineer.


We pump this water on our hay fields in the summer.


Retaining pond completed and collecting run-off water, November, 2015


Raking freshly cut hay.

If you live nearby and have any questions, please read Fred’s note here or  contact us.

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