Otter Wings LLP is looking to expand its swine farrowing facility in Otter Tail County near Sebeka in Blowers Township, effectively tripling its operation as it goes from about 2,500 hogs over 300 pounds to 7,500 hogs of all sizes. As part of the approval process for its proposed expansion, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) issued its draft permit and an environmental assessment worksheet (EAW) and it is now available for public comment until 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 11.
The facility was constructed last year and began housing animals this month. In this next phase of growth, it will be modifying its two existing barns while adding four new barns, a building for storing deceased animals, a stormwater infiltration basin and a water supply well. The barns will have concrete slatted floors, allowing manure to pass through into liquid-manure storage areas. Manure will be land applied to approximately 886 acres that have suitable land application agreements, with applications totaling less than 10 days a year.
According to Charles Peterson, planner at the MPCA, the expanded Otter Wings feedlot would be emitting approximately 910 tons of carbon dioxide per year, compared to the approximately 330 tons the current operation is emitting. Peterson says this is considered a normal amount for a farrowing operation. The report from the MPCA also says that the total confinement barns used by Otter Wings helps reduce the potential for air and odor emissions. The EAW was not required for the original feedlot, but the livestock increase proposed in this expansion triggered the need for review.
Emily Wegener, environmental manager for Preferred Capital Management, the group that was hired by the owners to fulfill day-to-day management of the operation, says this expansion was planned from the beginning. “It’s always been in the plans,” she says. “We were issued a permit of the first phase, you could say, so since that was approved we were able to go ahead and build and populate, and now that the second phase is going through the EAW process, any construction on that second phase will have to wait until we have full approval.” That being said, they hope to start construction in spring 2020.