December 2003 Nutrient Management Protocol for Ontario Regulation 267/03 Made under the Nutrient Management Act, 2002

Part 10 - Outdoor Confinement Areas

Table of Contents

  1. Storage
  2. Snow that Contains Manure

Outdoor Confinement Areas (OCA) include the following animals:

  • livestock;
  • deer;
  • elk; or
  • game animals

 10.1 Classification of Outdoor Confinement Areas

Outdoor feeding operations covered by the Regulation are classified as either high density permanent outdoor confinement areas or low density permanent outdoor confinement areas. The classification is based on the number of animals and the amount of time they spend in the confinement area as defined in the Regulation. Permanent outdoor confinement area (POCA) means an outdoor confinement area that is either a high-density or a low-density permanent outdoor confinement area. The breakdown between high and low density is as follows:

High density

  1. outdoor confinement: areas to which animals have access for 4800 hours (or 200 complete days) of the year or more and which is sufficient to generate more than 120 Nutrient Units per hectare annually (NU/ha); or
  2. outdoor confinement areas to which the animals have access for less than 4800 hours of the year and the area is part of a farm unit that contains the number of farm animals that is sufficient to generate,
    1. 300 or more nutrient units annually, and
    2. the number of nutrient units generated by the animals confined in the area in the year, multiplied by the proportion of the year during which the animals are confined in the area and this is more than 5 NU/ha.

Low density

  1. outdoor confinement areas to which animals have access for 4800 hours (or 200 complete days) of the year or more and where the number of animals confined in the area, at any time, is not sufficient to generate nutrients at a rate of more than 120 Nutrient Units per hectare (NU/ha) annually.

Access to the confinement area is assumed in any case where the animals are not excluded by the use of closed gates or similar barricades. If a farmer wishes animals to only have access to the confinement area for portions of days, the exclusion mechanism (e.g. gate or door) must be in place for the balance of the hours in question to achieve a condition of 'no access' for the purpose of these definitions.

10.1.1 Calculation of Permanent Nutrient Units per Hectare: Animals sufficient to generate nutrient units annually

Where animals are confined for a period of less than 4800 hours (200 complete days) or more, it is necessary to determine the nutrient production of the animals per hectare, annually. This calculation is use to determine whether the operation fits under the definition of low-density or high-density permanent outdoor confinement area.

The total nutrient units per hectare are calculated using the appropriate NU values for the animals from the tables in Part 3 of this protocol. This value provides a "snap shot" of what a given number of animals will be able to produce annually.

Example of Low Density

100 beef cows are kept on 1 hectare for 250 full days or 6000 hours. From the NU table it is determined that 1 beef cow equals 1 NU so there are 100 NU per ha. 100 NU/ha is less than 120 NU per ha so this is a low-density permanent outdoor confinement area.

Example of High Density

450 beef feeders are kept on 1 ha for 250 days. From the NU table it is determined that 3 beef feeders equal 1 NU so there are 150 NU per ha. 150 NU per ha is more than 120 NU per ha so this is a high-density permanent outdoor confinement area.

10.1.2 Operations 300 Nutrient Units or Greater: Nutrient Units calculated based on the proportion of the year during which animals are confined

Where animals are confined for a period of less than 4800 hours and there are sufficient animals to generate 300 nutrient units or greater annually, it is necessary to determine the nutrient production of the animals based on the proportion of the year during which animals are confined. This calculation is use to determine whether the operation fits under the definition of high density permanent outdoor confinement area.

The method for determining this number in accordance with the definition found in Part 1 of the Regulation is as follows:

The total nutrient units per hectare are calculated using the appropriate NU values for the animals from Table 3.2.1 in Part 3 of this protocol. This value is then adjusted to adequately reflect how long the livestock was actually on those hectares.

Example of High Density POCA, despite seasonal use

Three hundred beef cows are wintered on a field of 10 hectares for 180 full days or 4320 hours. From the NU table it is determined that one beef cow equals 1 NU.

300 beef cows/1 beef cow per NU = 300 NU

so: 300 NU is on 10 hectares which = 30 NU/ha

180 days is approximately 49% of a year, therefore, the NU loading for this field over the course of this year (provided that there is no other period of the year that livestock is present) is: 30 NU/ha x .49 = 14.8 NU/ha/yr

14.8 NU/ha/yr is more than 5 NU/ha/yr so this operation must be treated as a high-density permanent outdoor confinement area according to the definition provided in Part 1 of the regulation.

Example of a confinement area not regulated as a POCA

Three hundred beef cows are wintered on a field of 30 hectares for 120 full days or 2880 hours. From the NU table it is determined that 1 beef cow equals 1 NU.

300 beef cows = 300 NU

so: 300 NU is on 30 ha which = 10 NU/ha

120 days is approximately 1/3 or (33%) of a year, therefore, the NU loading for this field over the course of this year (provided that there is no other period of the year that livestock is present) is: 10 NU/ha x .33 = 3.3 NU/ha/yr

3.3 NU/ha/yr is less than 5 NU/ha/yr so this is a low-density seasonal not a permanent feeding operation and therefore is not currently covered by Part 7 of the regulation. It will however be subject to the requirements as an existing large operation and the rest of the regulation will apply to this farm by the applicable date.

10.2 Storage

The floor of an outdoor confinement area is considered to be a manure storage. This is reflected in the siting requirements for the different outdoor confinement area classes, such as the requirements for specified soil type and depth as specified in Part 7 of the Regulation. Further, no additional storage should be needed provided that manure is land applied directly from the outdoor confinement area according to a nutrient management plan.

If manure is removed from that floor before being land applied (according to a nutrient management plan) then the storage facility or site where it is kept must also meet the requirements for construction and siting of storage facilities and sites as specified in Part 8 of the Regulation.

Setbacks for Structures

For permanent outdoor confinement areas, the provisions for setbacks for structures are set out in Part 7 of the Regulation.

10.3 Snow That Contains Manure

Part 7 of the Regulation allows a person to store or use snow which has been removed from an outdoor confinement area and that contains manure subject to certain conditions.

Context – Snow that contains manure, removed from an outdoor confinement area, is known in the industry as "feedlot snow", "winter yard scrapings" or "brown sugar". This material is of extreme bulk relative to nutrient content, and is known to cause handling and storage difficulties on many operations where outdoor livestock housing is used.

10.3.1 Parameters for Snow Containing Manure from POCAs

For the purposes of Part 7 of the Regulation the snow containing manure is characterized by;

  1. having originated from an outdoor confinement area;
  2. the presence of ice or snow crystals;
  3. the presence no other foreign materials except livestock urine, feces, feed or bedding;
  4. a dry matter content of no greater than 16%
  5. a nutrient content of no greater than 0.82% total nitrogen on a dry weight basis and no greater than 0.26% total phosphorus on a dry weight basis; and
  6. the material appears solid despite its low dry matter content such that this material cannot be pumped at time of handling or application, rather it can be piled or handled as a solid.

The preferred method for determining the nutrient content described above is through using pooled samples (10 litres each) which are subjected to analysis in triplicate. Sampling and laboratory methods for determining dry matter, total nitrogen and total phosphorus are outlined in the Sampling and Analysis Protocol.

10.3.2 Bedding and Feed in Snow

Snow that contains manure is permitted to contain some bedding and feed. This is in recognition of the fact that sometimes feed and bedding will become mixed in with the snow after a storm event and may be removed when the snow is removed. Not all scrapings from an outdoor confinement area will be able to meet the parameters described above. Any winter application of manure that does not meet the above guidelines must be in compliance with the regulations for winter spreading contained in Part 6 of the Regulation.


For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: 10 December 2003
Last Reviewed: 10 December 2003