Manure holding pond safety

Manure holding pond

I have been on few headquarters recently and noticed that the animal waste holding ponds or lagoons didn’t have safety fence around them.

I even heard a story of how one family’s adult son fell into their hog farm’s manure holding pond.

With that being said, I wanted to talk a little bit about the safety measures and precautions that can be taken to avoid accidents around these ponds.


The safety features should begin in the design phase of the holding pond or lagoon construction. Both animals and human safety measures should be taken into consideration when designing these facilities.

A few questions to ask yourself would be:

  • Is there a fence around the pond?
  • Is the pond posted with Caution or No Trespassing Signs?
  • Are there toddlers or kids present on the farm?
  • Are there safety stops or gates installed at push-off ramps or load-out areas to prevent accidental entry of farm machinery?
  • Are there ladders, ropes, or flotation devices in the pond for safety if a fall would occur?


The Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) has standards and specifications for the safety and construction of these facilities as well.

The Standard states that barbed wire fence requires a minimum of five strands and the bottom of any fence should be no more than 10 inches off the ground.

They also have a standard for closing a holding pond or lagoon not in use anymore.

Hard to see

Another situation that could be a safety concern is active or abandoned holding ponds that are crusted over and have vegetation growing on top of them.

Active ones could appear false to the eye and mislead you to where the edge actually is and you could fall through the crust.

Abandoned ones may be completely covered with vegetation and you may not know it is even there.

Abandoned ones can be reclaimed or filled in with dirt to avoid injury or death.

These are all situations that could occur and good questions to ask yourself before an accident does happen on your farm. Contact your local Soil and Water Office or NRCS Office for recommendations and assistance.


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