Feedlot Regulations

Feedlots are allowed in the Agricultural Zoning District. Any feedlot with greater than 300 animal units requires a public hearing before it is permitted. Permits issued for feedlots over 300 animal units that have a liquid manure system are required to inject their manure as a condition of their permit

Cattle in a Feed Lot


On December 12, 2000, the county adopted setbacks for feedlots from houses in the agricultural district. The setback is a minimum 1/8 mile from a house not associated with the feedlot, and must meet a 93% annoyance free odor rating based on the OFFSET model. The setback is .5 mile for any churches, schools, public parks, or existing residential subdivisions. The 93% rating is also afforded those land uses. The cities are afforded a 99% OFFSET rating, with our 2 largest cities having a 1 mile setback, and our 3 smaller ones maintaining a .5 mile setback.


The Odor From Feedlots Setback Estimation Tool (OFFSET) is a program developed at the University of Minnesota to help answer questions about odors from feedlots. More detailed information can be found on the University of MN Extension's Manure Management page.


As the county adopted these standards, it was important that we did not develop something that would cause our existing farms to become non-conforming, preventing them from expanding their operations should they choose to. At the same time we wanted to provide guidance to our produces as to appropriate sites for new construction that would minimize odors for their neighbors. The location restrictions apply to new feedlots. The odor rating applies to any new construction on any feedlot, existing or new.

Land Use

The county has not allowed urban land uses to be located in the agricultural districts of the county since 1981. That means that we will not allow the rezoning of land for commercial, industrial, or platted residential subdivisions anywhere in the county except immediately adjacent to municipal boundaries where they can receive municipal services.

This has served to permit our cities to grow in an orderly manner without the urban sprawl that is so common, and has also allowed our farms to continue farming without the encroachment of large developments of non-farm houses going up "in their backyard". We allow 1 new dwelling per quarter in all the districts outside of the cities, provided that the building lot has access to a public road. We do not permit "transfer of development rights", which gives the same result of allowing platted residential subdivisions within the agricultural district.


No feedlots are permitted within the floodplain or shoreland. Shoreland is defined in Minnesota as within 1,000-feet of a protected water lake or 300-feet of a protected water stream. These location restrictions are also a matter of state law.


If you are expanding your feedlot, you need to come in to the Property Services Office. You will need:

  • A site plan of your building
    • Show dimensions
    • Show property line setbacks
  • Animal types and how many (animal units*)
    • What you have
    • what you intend to add
  • Manure management plan
  • Manure storage structure plan (drawing or sketch)
    • over 20,000 gallons requires engineer drawings and soil borings

about animal units*: 300 or more total animal units require a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) hearing. If total animal units are or will be 1,000 or more, or meet maximum numbers per specific type, a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) / State Disposal System (SDS) permit is required.