Weather Forecast


Livestock barn expansions get preliminary approval

WORTHINGTON -- In their fourth meeting of the past five weeks, Nobles County Planning Commission members approved two livestock barn expansions, the creation of a new open manure storage pit and the establishment of a rural home business Wednesday night.

Each of the four requests for special permits will advance to the Nobles County Board of Commissioners for final approval. That meeting is slated for 9 a.m. May 8 in the board room of the Nobles County Government Center.

Among the requests heard Wednesday night was the proposed expansion of Ocheda Dairy, 30581 Paul Ave., Worthington. Joe Vander Kooi had been granted a request earlier in the evening from the Board of Adjustment to encroach 50 feet into the required 250-foot setback from the county road for the construction of a 216- by 210-foot free stall dairy barn, a 60- by 90-foot milking parlor and a 200- by 100-foot open lagoon.

Vander Kooi said the milking parlor isn't included in the current construction project, but he wanted approval for the facility so it could potentially be added in the future.

The new parlor would be used for fresh cows and double as a hospital, keeping the non-saleable milk separate from their main parlor.

"That may never get built, but it's in our long-term plan," Vander Kooi told the commission.

As for the additional lagoon, he said the goal is to have enough capacity for a year's worth of manure storage.

Heavy rains last summer forced the Vander Koois to pump the manure out earlier than anticipated.

Vander Kooi also said the new lagoon will be pumped from the top -- a practice that is hoped to reduce the odors emitted from the facility.

The expanded free-stall barn will allow the Vander Kooi to add another 250 to 300 head of milking cows to their operation.

Ocheda Dairy is a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) because the farm contains more than 1,000 animal units.

As such, its permits are issued by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Wednesday night's unanimous approval of the expansion project by the planning commission is contingent upon MPCA approval of the permits.

The MPCA will also have the final say on a request made by Chris Wolf to expand a swine barn at 14501 275th St., Adrian.

The 84- by 68-foot addition, with a concrete pit below, will not result in the addition of any more animals in the barn.

Wolf said the expansion will permit him to keep sows and baby pigs in farrowing crates for an additional three to five days, allowing for more growth of the baby pigs before they are moved to a finishing barn.

"They've had conditional use permits for a long time and we've never had any complaints," Nobles County Environmental Services director Wayne Smith said. Unanimous approval of the expansion was given by the planning commission.

Andy Henning received approval for a conditional use permit to construct a 160- by 165-foot open manure basin for his dairy operation at 14554 230th St., Adrian.

The concrete pit will replace an earthen storage structure that currently exists on the farm.

Henning said the new pit will allow them to separate the sand bedding from the manure so that it can be recycled.

At a maximum depth of eight feet, the pit will store up to a year's worth of manure. The pit will be enclosed with fencing.

Smith said the concrete pit is an environmental improvement.

The fourth permit request approved Wednesday night wasn't for livestock expansion, but rather the operation of a home-based graphic design business. Jeremy Van Ede has opened No Limit Graphics & Design in the shop on his rural residence, located at 24326 Dillman Ave., Adrian.

Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.

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

(507) 376-7330