Managing Odors, Neighbor Relations, and Estimating Setbacks for Animal Feeding Operations

When a new or expanded animal feeding operation is proposed, air quality and odors are often identified as a concern by community members. Available science-based resources will help you better understand odor, health and zoning issues. Understanding these issues can help community members with diverse interests and perspectives engage in informed conversations as they deal with community decisions regarding zoning and land use related to large animal feeding operations.

Neighbor Relations and Odor Management

Odor is a surprisingly complex issue that can impact neighbors and others. Farmers care about their impact on neighbors and look for effective methods to reduce odors. The goal is to keep odors at non-detectable or non-offensive levels. This 9 minute video will introduce some odor management issues and options available to reduce odors. Odor mitigation includes careful site planning and, as needed, the use of natural (windbreaks and setbacks), technological and management practices. The costs of different odor reduction practices vary and should be carefully considered to determine if they are a good fit for each individual operation. Visit the Feedlot Air Emissions Treatment Cost Calculator to download a spreadsheet to help calculate costs and benefits of installing technologies to treat odors and gas emissions from animal feeding operations.

Setback Tools

This nine minute video describes three setback estimation tools developed and used in Minnesota, Nebraska and Iowa as the result of extensive research. These tools determine appropriate setback distances to manage odors when building new or expanding existing livestock or poultry facilities.

The siting of a livestock or poultry production facility is the first step in odor control to minimize impacts on nearby neighbors and public areas. Each facility needs a site-specific plan as there is no one-size-fits-all recommendation. Topography, local weather, presence of other odor sources in the area, sensitivity of the neighbors, and the characteristics of the animal facility all play a role in determining setbacks. Fortunately there are science-based tools available to assist producers, concerned citizens, and policy makers in making sound decisions.

Some of the ways farmers can manage odors include:

Also see the excellent video on “Odors on Livestock Farms: A Case Study From Nebraska” and visit the Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center air quality page for more resources on managing air emissions.

More Videos in This Series

Additional educational materials are available at Air Quality in Animal Agriculture


For more information about this video or these resources, contact Dr. Kevin Janni, University of Minnesota

These materials were based upon work supported by the by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture under Agreement No. 2010-85112-20520.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this video are those of the speaker and do not reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.