Being a good neighbor is important no matter where you live or what you do. It is even more important when you are a commercial poultry grower as your actions can affect how people view the whole industry. Visiting with neighbors and addressing their issues should be a standard part of your business plan. To help address and prevent issues, consider the following suggestions.
People always judge based on what they see or don’t see. Therefore, make sure your farm looks and operates well to help prevent unwanted issues with your neighbors. Maintain the lawns, keep them mowed and trimmed and make sure trash is picked up, especially after live-haul leaves. This also includes sweeping pads and closing end doors. Always clean up any feed spills as soon as possible to prevent the buildup of flies as well as for proper biosecurity (they attract rodents and birds). Keep equipment stored properly and don’t leave equipment on the pads between flocks (feedline hoppers and switches), as this is unsightly and can cause equipment to get damaged or lost. Don’t leave old equipment laying around the farm and fix broken or damaged fan cones as soon as possible. This will increase the efficiency of the fan as well as improve the farm appearance.
Driveways need to be well maintained and all ruts and pot holes need to be properly filled. When designing a driveway, take into consideration your neighbors, do the lights or dust cause them problems? If so consider using vegetative buffers to help block light and capture dust and feathers.
Plant a Vegetative Buffer
Like the old saying says “out of sight, out of mind”, planting buffers can help reduce issues with neighbors. Vegetative buffers are usually composed of a combination of grasses, trees and shrubs and can be planted around the production area to help capture dust as well as beautify the farm. Additionally, planting tall, warm season grasses in front of the fans (at least 2x the fan width away) can help fans operate more efficiently by reducing back pressure, while helping to reduce noise, in addition to capturing dust and other nutrients. Buffers can also help capture any nutrients that may be lost from the production area and help keep them out of local waterways. Finally, buffers can provide an attractive environment for native pollinators, especially when flowering plants are used as part of the buffer.
Mortality Management and Manure Storage Structures
Proper mortality management (composting) can greatly help to decrease complaints from neighbors. Make sure that mortality is not left lying around the farm and is properly placed and covered in the composter. Making sure that composting mortality is properly covered will keep odor to a minimum and help reduce the number of flies.
Controlling flies can be a challenge, especially during wet seasons, but keeping the manure barn and composting area well drained and repairing any structural issues quickly can really help. There are many different kinds of sprays that you can use to help reduce fly numbers, but consider spraying surfaces where flies congregate with a chemical that has a long lasting residual effect. By targeting these areas, you can reduce the amount of pesticide used and maximize your effectiveness. Places to concentrate on are areas where flies congregate in the morning to warm up. Spray the board just above the manure line in your manure shed and composter so that when flies hatch they will come in contact with the pesticide as they climb up to dry.
Finally, talk to your neighbors, most issues can be worked out with a friendly conversation. Listen to their concerns and try and find ways to prevent problems before they happen. By communicating with them about any issues or changes that may take place, you let them know that you are concerned about them and willing to work together in the future.