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What Are Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations? When Must One Have a Permit?

Defines "concentrated animal feeding operation" (CAFO), based on the type or types of animals on site and the number of each type of animal on site.

An animal feeding operation (AFO) is a lot or facility, other than an aquatic animal production facility, where animals have been, are, or will be stabled or confined and fed or maintained for a total of 45 days or more in any 12-month period, and in which the animal confinement areas do not sustain crops, vegetation, forage growth, or post-harvest residues in the normal growing season over any portion of the lot or facility.

The type and number of animals on site determine how an AFO is categorized under the rules:

Large Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO)

An AFO with the following number of animals is designated as a large CAFO and is required to obtain a permit:

Head Animal Type
1,000 veal calves and cattle other than mature dairy cattle
700 mature dairy cattle
2,500 swine weighing over 55 pounds
10,000 swine weighing less than 55 pounds
5,000 ducks (liquid manure handling system)
30,000 ducks (not using liquid manure handling system)
500 horses
10,000 sheep or lambs
55,000 turkeys
82,000 laying hens or broilers (not using liquid manure handling system)
30,000 laying hens or broilers (liquid manure handling system)
125,000 chickens (other than laying hens, if not using liquid waste handling system)

All large CAFOs must obtain written authorization from the TCEQ. If you do not qualify for the general permitAdobe Acrobat PDF Document, then you must obtain an individual permitAdobe Acrobat PDF Document. (Help with PDF.)

Medium CAFO

An AFO with the following number of animals that is located in the Dairy Outreach Program Area (Erath, Bosque, Hamilton, Comanche, Wood, Rains, and Hopkins Counties) is a medium CAFO:

Head Animal Type
300 to 999 veal calves and cattle other than mature dairy cattle
200 to 699 mature dairy cattle
3,000 to 9,999 swine weighing less than 55 pounds
750 to 2,499 swine weighing over 55 pounds
10,000 to 29,999 ducks (not using liquid manure handling system)
1,500 to 4,999 ducks (liquid manure handling system)
150 to 499 horses
3,000 to 9,999 sheep or lambs
16,500 to 54,999 turkeys
25,000 to 81,999 laying hens or broilers (not using liquid manure handling system)
9,000 to 29,999 laying hens or broilers (liquid manure handling system)
37,500 to 124,999 chickens (other than laying hens, if not using liquid waste handling system)

All medium CAFOs in the Dairy Outreach Program Area must obtain written authorization from the TCEQ. If you do not qualify for the general permitAdobe Acrobat PDF Document, then you must obtain an individual permitAdobe Acrobat PDF Document.

Small CAFO

Any AFO may be designated a small CAFO by the executive director because it is a significant contributor of pollutants into or adjacent to water in the state. Any AFO that is designated a small CAFO must obtain written authorization from the TCEQ. If you do not qualify for the general permitAdobe Acrobat PDF Document, then you must obtain an individual permitAdobe Acrobat PDF Document.

Other Animal Feeding Operations

AFOs not defined or designated as CAFOs are authorized by the permit by rule found in 30 TAC Chapter 321.47Exit the TCEQ. If you are an AFO but not a CAFO, you must submit a notification form and comply with the permit by rule.If you need technical assistance with your AFO, contact the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation BoardExit the TCEQ (TSSWCB) or the USDA Natural Resource Conservation ServiceExit the TCEQ (NRCS).

All CAFOs must obtain written authorization from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Some CAFOs will qualify for general permits (HTML) while others will be required to obtain individual permits (HTML).

If you have other questions about these authorizations, please see our Contact Page or e-mail us at CAFO@tceq.texas.gov.