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Dairy farm to add barn, eliminate open cattle lot

WORTHINGTON -- Weg's Blue and White Dairy of Bigelow received the OK Wednesday night from the Nobles County Planning Commission to move forward with construction of a 110- by 244-foot livestock barn on its site in the northwest quarter of the northwest quarter of Section 24, Ransom Township.

Mike Weg said that because the farm is over 1,000 animal units, any outside lots must have a containment structure. That structure would cost about two-thirds of the cost of a building. Weg said the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency encouraged the family to erect a building.

One neighbor, Alan Larson, spoke up at the meeting about the Weg operation. He was concerned that more animals would be added to the site, mentioned the odors and had a complaint about the condition of the roads.

"You guys moved out of the area and my daughter ... is there and has to smell it," said Larson. "The road is tore up a high percentage of the time, and I think you should help maintain it.

"They run a good operation, but I have concerns too," he told the planning commission.

Weg said the addition will not result in any more cattle on the site.

"We're just taking the cattle that are outside and putting them inside," he said.

As for the roads, Weg acknowledged they weren't good, but that it was a township issue. In the winter months, he said their family spends more time getting snow off of that road for other people because they have to be able to get the milk trucks in and out.

"This is a bad year for roads," said planning commissioner Brent Feikema. "I think he's doing what he's got to do (with the added building) and what should be done."

Conditions on the expansion carry over from the previous conditional use permit -- that liquid manure be incorporated, solids may be surface applied and that the good neighbor policy be adhered to.

In other action, the commission:

* Approved a conditional use permit for Whitetail Run of Pipestone to expand an existing swine facility in the northeast quarter of Section 32, Leota Township. A 61- by 272-foot gilt development barn will be constructed on the site to allow the company to acclimate young gilts into the sow operation. At the same time, a 66-crate addition to the farrowing unit will be completed to extend the length of weaning time of baby pigs from 16 days to 22 days.

The entire project will increase the number of animal units on site to 1,526 animal units because of the added gilts. When the expansion is complete, the site will house up to 3,346 sows, 560 gilts and 400 nursery pigs.

Conditions placed on the site when it was constructed in 1997 will remain in place, including that the buildings adhere to a 150-foot setback from the right-of-way, a tree buffer be in place, there be enclosed containment of dead animals, manure distribution to be done by total injection and incorporated into the soil, they adhere to the good neighbor policy and that there be perimeter tile with inspection port.

* Approved a permit for the construction of 2.7 miles of new overhead 115 kV transmission line, and the rebuilding of approximately 1 mile of existing 69 kV transmission line to 115 kV standards in Sections 13 and 14, Worthington Township. This project had appeared before both the planning commission and joint jurisdictional committee in recent months, and was approved Wednesday following the recommendation of the joint jurisdictional committee.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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