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Miami/Pampa The chief trouble with Mr. Philpott’s feedlot is that it is not his. If it were, he wouldn’t have built it in his front yard. The feedlot in Mr. Philpott’s front yard belongs to Mr. Philpott’s neighbor and Cockrell does not object to having a feedlot in his side yard. The brothers Philpott, three of them, not to mention their wives, sister and other neighbors, object strenuously. So strenuously that in the minds of the many public officials who have to listen to their complaints the feedlot is always thought of as the Philpott feedlot. Despite the complaints, there are now approximately 20,000 cows excreting mightily in the middle of the Philpott neighborhood. In brief, the Texas Air Control Board has struck again. For those city dwellers among you it should be explained that a feedlot is a relatively new phenomenon in the cattle business. We’ve had them here in Texas for only about 20 years and feedlots with more than 1,000 head were almost unheard of before the mid-1960’s. But the southern great plains region of Texas \(also known as place for feedlots. According to the Texas Cattlefeeders Association, the industry now pumps $6 billion a year into the economy of the Panhandle. According to feedlot men, Americans will no longer buy range cattle: they haven’t the marbling and finish consumers demand. So cattle are sent to feedlots for an average of 150 days of constant feeding on an enriched diet. Attached to each feedlot is a feedmill that steams, grinds and mixes milo, corn, alfalfa, hay, cottonseed meal and a lot of other delicious stuff for cows. A cow can ingest three percent of its body weight every day. It can also egest up to 16 pounds of enriched manure every day: with 20,000 cows, that’s the equivalent of the raw sewage produced daily by a city of 320,000 people. And that’s what’s sitting in the Philpotts’ front yard. Not to mince words, feedlots stink. They probably stink worse than anything else in the state, except maybe paper mills. Even hardy folk who enjoy the sharp, natural odor of a fresh cowpie find feedlots overpowering. FEEDLOT COUNTRY starts about where you begin to get Clarence Zugenbuler’s stock report from Fort Worth on the radio. On a clear day you can see forever in that country the high, treeless plains stretch to infinity under a sky that can produce fantastic cloud mountains and sunsets so purty they’ll break your heart. The country is also marked by playa lakes, natural depressions that seem almost heaven-made for feedlot runoff, since they’re of no use for anything else. Playa lakes have almost impenetrable bottoms of heavy clay, sometimes called Randall clay. A good playa lake never floods, which is just as well because if feedlot runoff ever gets into a live stream, it’s all over for everything live in it. According to Don Skraggins, west Texas coordinator for the Texas Water Quality Board, feedlot runoff is anywhere from 10 to 50 times as strong as normal, domestic runoff. Consequently, letting it get into a live stream or lake is verboten. Over 80 percent of the confined feeding in Texas is done on the high plains, partly because of the proximity to grain and sorghum and mostly because of the cold, dry weather. “Precipitation is the problem,” said G. I. Wallin, permits engineer with the Texas Air Control Board. “Humidity worsens the odor problem and when you have an odor problem, the efficiencies are way down.” This is true: although all feedlots stink, some stink a lot worse than others. You can go into a pen in a .clean feedlot and pick up dry manure that smells just like feed. But you can also see manure mountains in some lots big enough for 15 or 20 cows to stand on,, and when those manure mountains get wet .. . “I’ve seen cows standing belly deep in muck, wet manure,” said Wallin, looking pained at the memory. The object is to periodically scrape the manure in feedlot pens into a heap at the center of the pen. The lot should be so shaped that water will drain out of it, thus preventing “ponding” standing, stagnant, stinking water. When the heap of manure in the center of the lot gets large enough \(not too large manure mountains are too Hauling is a smelly process no matter when it’s done, but the Air Control Board does require that it be done only in very dry weather and under certain wind conditions. A manure heap, in dry weather, naturally forms a hard crust and doesn’t stink. But it stinks when you move it. According to Cockrell, commercial fertilizer has gone sky-high, from $80 to $130 a ton and farmers can’t get it anyway: there’s even a blackmarket in it. Further according to Cockrell, manure costs $2 to $2.25 a ton and one can use up to 20 tons on an acre. Clearly a good buy. Cockrell foresees no difficulty in the disposition of his manure. The smell from manure is not, relatively, -much of a problem when the weather is dry, but then there is dust. When it is dry, penned cattle stir up dust until it hangs over a feedlot like Joe Bltfspk’s cloud. The Air Board requires feedlot operators to have either a sprinkler system or sprinkler trucks that allegedly control the dust problem. Then there are the flies. Feedlot operators are required both to dip the cattle that come in, which holds down the flies, and to spray insecticides. The brain-boggler left is, how bad would the flies be if feedlot operators didn’t dip and spray? There are a lot of flies around feedlots. A lot of flies. NOW NONE of the Philpotts, not Kint nor Jim nor George nor Helen nor Marguerite or the Hendersons or the Harveys, object to feedlots per se: they just don’t want one in the middle of the neighborhood. Neighborhood, in the Panhandle, is not your basic suburban square block. The Kint Philpott, the Jim Philpott and the Tom Henderson homes are all approximately 400 yards from the feedlot less than a quarter of a mile. Within a’ half mile are the Lloyd Harvey and the Stella Airington homes. Charles Barden, executive secretary of the Air Control Board, much to the outrage of the Philpotts and friends, has described the neighborhood as “sparsely settled.” In truth, you would have to look hard all over eastern Gray County to find a more densely populated area. If you have had occasion to visit greater metropolitan Mobeetie recently \(not to mention New stretch of land with nothing and no one around it for 10 miles in any direction is November 2, 1973 3