Kaninchen Farm

Working to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

Generally Accepted Agriculture and Management Practices aka GAAMPS

What are GAAMPS?

GAAMPS stands for Generally Accepted Agricultural and Management Practices. They are a voluntary list of practices intended to give animals adequate care and to provide for their well being. These GAAMPS provide scientifically backed guidelines for the care of each species of animal. From the Michigan 2018 Livestock Management GAAMPS:
“These voluntary Generally Accepted Agricultural and Management Practices are intended to be used by the livestock industry and other groups concerned with animal welfare as an educational tool in the promotion of animal husbandry and care practices. The recommendations do not claim to be comprehensive for all circumstances; but attempt to define general standards for livestock production and well-being on farm operations...Proper animal management is essential to the well being of animals and the financial success of livestock operations. A sound animal husbandry program provides a system of care that permits the animals to grow, mature, reproduce and maintain health.”

Why are they important to us at Kaninchen Farm? Why follow them if they’re voluntary and not required?

GAAMPS are designed to do 3 things:

  • Look out for the animals health, safety, and well-being.
  • Promote good animal husbandry and stewardship of the land
  • Help educate both farmers and the public about good care practices.

The health, safety, and well-being of our animals is a top priority for us. All of our animals are given regular health checks. If a problem is found, the animal is quarantined and treated. We also have the added measure of if there is any disease found, we will not sell any stock until the problem is cleared up and all animals are deemed safe. It’s not just their physical health that we care about. The psychological health of our animals is important too. All of our animals are provided enrichment. The rabbits are given chew toys and rings for instance. The ducks and chickens are allowed to range in a protected natural environment where they do what they are intended to do - scratch in the dirt, hunt for seeds, dust bathe, eat bugs, and run around. We believe that this is all part of good animal husbandry and care. Sometimes people have the wrong perception of a care practice or situation and may believe it to be inhumane or dangerous when really it isn’t (for instance keeping rabbits in wire bottom cages instead of solid bottom cages.). We are always happy to educate people about the methods we use and most importantly why we use them. 

We would like to invite you to learn more about the GAAMPS and the practices used on our farm. In the sections on the animal pages, I have copied sections of the 2018 Livestock Management GAAMPS for Laying Chickens, Gamebirds, and Domestic Rabbits. Anywhere you see words in quotation marks, they are also quoting these 2018 GAAMPS. 

Please don't feel overwhelmed looking at these GAAMPS, especially if you are a new breeder. Remember, these are voluntary. Our systems and practices didn't just happen into being, they were carefully thought out and evolved over time with trial and error. My hope is that by sharing them with you, you will have a better insight into how we run our mini farm, learn more about our techniques and quality, and that maybe you will find something you can apply to your homestead too. 

First, the link to the Michigan state government's page about Right to Farm and GAAMPS: http://www.michigan.gov/gaamps

The GAAMPS that apply to us are:
2018 Manure Management and Utilization GAAMPs

2018 Care of Farm Animals GAAMPs

2018 Nutrient Utilization GAAMPs

2018 Irrigation Water Use GAAMPs

2018 Pesticide Utilization and Pest Control GAAMPs

2018 Manure Management and Utilization GAAMPS

Select section headings and recommended management practices from the 2018 Manure Management and Utilization GAAMPs. Where you see black text, it is from the GAAMPS. Green text is how we at Kaninchen Farm respond. We also have an active Manure Management System Plan (MMSP) in place and use it. 

Rainfall and snowfall-induced runoff from uncovered livestock facilities requires control to protect neighboring land areas and prevent direct discharge to surface or groundwaters. Livestock facilities, which require runoff control, include all holding areas where livestock density precludes sustaining vegetative growth on the soil surface. 
1. Facilities may be paved, partially paved around waters and feed bunks, or unpaved. 
2. Runoff control is required for any facility if runoff from a lot leaves the owner's own property or adversely impacts surface and/or groundwater quality. Examples include runoff to neighboring land, a roadside ditch, a drain ditch, stream, lake, or wetland. 
3. Milk parlor and milk house wastewater shall be managed in a manner to prevent pollution to waters of the state. 
4. Provisions should be made to control and/or treat leachate and runoff from stored manure, silage, food processing by-products, or other stored livestock feeds to protect groundwater and surface waters.
While we do count as a livestock facility ( Any facility where livestock are kept regardless of the number of animals), we do not have any holding areas where livestock density precludes sustaining vegetative growth. We do have some bare spots in the chicken run where the animals have eaten all the grass, but the majority of the run is covered with a variety of plants. To collect and control runoff from the chicken run, we have installed a rain garden at the point of lowest elevation. This sends all the rain runoff from the chicken run (which naturally contains chicken and duck manure) into the rain garden basin where it is collected, filtered by the carefully selected plants, and returned safely to the groundwater supply. We do not have any paved or partially paved facilities. Absolutely none of the runoff leaves our property. #3 does not apply to use. We do not specifically keep stored manure, it is mixed into our compost pile and utilized. Our compost pile is a total of 10'x3' separated into 3 3'x3' bins with some space in between. We have never specifically seen runoff from these piles as they generally absorb all rainfall on them. 

Storage Facilities for Runoff Control 
Runoff control can be achieved by providing facilities to collect and store the runoff for later application to cropland. 
5. Runoff storage facilities should be designed to contain normally occurring direct precipitation and resulting runoff and manure that accumulate during the storage times projected in the MMSP. In addition, storage volume should be provided that will contain the direct rainfall and runoff that occur as a result of the average 25 years, 24 hour rainfall event for the area. Storage facilities must be constructed to reduce seepage loss to acceptable levels.

Land Application of Runoff

Equipment must be available for land application of stored runoff wastewater. Land application should be done when the soil is dry enough to accept the water.

We do not sore runoff because it is taken care of with the rain garden so Storage Facilities for Runoff Control and Land Application of Runoff do not apply to us.

Infiltration Areas 7. An alternative to a storage structure is a structure for settling solids with a vegetated infiltration area for handling lot runoff, and/or silage leachate wastewater. The vegetative area may be a long, grassed, slightly sloping channel or a broad, flat area with minimal slope for positive rainage and surrounded by a berm or dike. All outside surface water should be excluded from the infiltration area so that the only water applied is lot runoff and/or diluted silage leachate and direct precipitation. Vegetation should be maintained and harvested at least once per year so that the nutrients contained in the plant material are removed, in order to prevent excessive nutrient build up in the soil of the infiltration area.

Pasture Systems Pasture land is land that is primarily used for the production of forage upon which livestock graze. Pasture land is characterized by a predominance of vegetation consisting of desirable forage species. Sites such as loafing areas, confinement areas, or feedlots which have livestock densities that preclude a predominance of desirable forage species are not considered pasture land.
8. Stocking densities and management systems should be employed which ensure that desirable forage species are present with an intensity of stand sufficient to slow the movement of runoff water and control soil erosion and movement of manure nutrients from the pasture land.
9. Livestock should be excluded from actual contact with streams or water courses except for controlled crossings and accesses for watering.
10. Runoff from pasture feeding and watering areas should travel through a vegetated filter area to protect surface and groundwater.
Our chicken run is managed as a pasture. It is seeded each year with a varying mixture of seeds that include but are not limited to: winter wheat, rye, barley, oat, field peas, amaranth, quinoa, bee balm, beets, vetch, comfrey, sunflowers, additional herbs and flowers. It also contains perennial plants such as raspberries (to offer cover, protection, and fruit), autumn olive (fruit), ferns, and more. These plants do not allow for a large amount of runoff and effectively control soil erosion and movement of nutrients. Any runoff from this area is directed to the rain garden which acts as a vegetative filter area. We do not have any streams or other water sources on our property that the livestock come into contact with.

Outside Lots 11. Provisions should be made to collect, store, utilize, and/or treat manure accumulations and runoff from outside open lots used for raising livestock. Outside open lots used for raising livestock are areas of animal manure accumulation. Maintenance of open lot systems requires manure handling methods to periodically remove accumulated solid or semisolid manure and control lot runoff. Solid manure is typically transferred from the lot to storage facilities or equipment for application to cropland. The frequency of removal of accumulated manure ill depend on the animal density (square feet of lot area per animal), the amount of time the animals spend on the lot, the animal size, and the type of feed system.
None of the manure from our chicken run is collected or stored, but mixes right into the vegetation because it is managed like a pasture, not an outside lot that needs scraped, cleaned, and manure removed. #11 does not apply to us.

The goal for effective odor management is to reduce the frequency, intensity, duration and offensiveness of odors, and to manage the operation in a way that tends to create a positive attitude toward the operation. Because of the subjective nature of human responses to certain odors, recommendations for appropriate technology and management practices are not an exact science. The recommendations in this section represent the best professional judgment available. The following eight management practices (GAAMPs numbered 12 to 19) provide guidance on how to minimize potential odors from livestock operations. Producers should select those practices which are applicable to their livestock operations and develop an Odor Control Plan as part of their MMSP.
12. Livestock producers should plan, design, construct, and manage their operations in a manner that minimizes odor impacts upon neighbors.
Our operation was planned, designed and constructed in a manner that minimizes odor impact upon our neighbors. Our chickens, ducks, and rabbits are kept on the far side of the property. They are kept at the far boundary line as far away from our one neighbor on the same side of the street as us. Our house sits between us and that neighbor and acts as both a wind break and a barrier to wind blowing over odors. The animal run borders the 20+ acre woodlot and does not blow odor that way. There is a large hill on 2 sides which helps to block wind from carrying odors as well. Since feed odor is the second largest cause of odor, we reduce feed odors by keeping all feed in sealed barrels and only feeding the amount that the animals will eat within 24 hours.
In addition to the placement of the animal run and housing, we also employ 4 other techniques. The manure odor is strongest when there is mud after a rainfall in spring before all the plants have sprouted. To minimize strong odors, we keep the area as planted as possible. We also add bedding of straw and pine shavings around the feeder and waterers as needed. If needed, we can also add lime to help with odor control.
The fourth, and most important technique is limiting the amount of animals we keep and choose to raise. We are keenly aware of the amount of animals that our land can support, and we keep our flock sizes low. Because rabbit manure is a dry manure, it has no odor. The chickens, ducks, and quail however are wet manures that do contain odor. We endeavor to keep our bird numbers low in order to not be a nuisance to our neighbors.

Outside Lots 
Outside open lots are acceptable for raising livestock in Michigan. In these systems, manure is deposited over a relatively large surface area per animal (compared to a roofed confinement system for example) and begins to decompose in place. 
13. New outside lot systems should not be located in close proximity to residences and other odor-sensitive land uses. 
If we ever use an outside lot system or build a new pasture, it will be located far from the neighboring residences. 

Feed Materials 14. The odor of fermented feed materials, such as corn or hay silage, can be minimized by harvesting and storing them at an appropriate dry matter content (generally greater than 33 percent dry matter).
We do not use fermented feed materials.

Manure Fresh manure is usually considered to be less odorous than anaerobically decomposing manure. Fresh manure emits ammonia but in general is not accompanied by other products of decomposition, which contribute to odors. 15. Frequent (daily or every few days) removal of manure from animal space, coupled with storage or stacking and followed by application to crop land at agronomic rates, is an acceptable practice throughout Michigan. 16. Where possible, do not locate manure storage in close proximity to residential areas.
We do not store manure. It is quickly broken down on the pasture, mixed into the compost or mixed into the garden.

Stacked Solid Manure 17. Solid manure that may contain bedding materials and/or is dried sufficiently, such as that from poultry, cattle, sheep, swine, horse, and fur-bearing animal facilities, can be temporarily stacked outside the livestock building.
Manure from the chicken coop that is mixed with bedding is dry and mixed straight into the compost system.

Storages and Acceptable Covers 18. Use covered manure storage if technically and economically feasible.

Composting Composting is a self-heating process carried on by actinomycetes, other bacteria, and fungi that decompose organic material in the presence of oxygen. Composting of organic material, including livestock and poultry manures, can result in a rather stable end product that does not support extensive microbial or insect activity, if the process and systems are properly designed and managed. The otential for odors during the composting process depends upon the moisture content of the organic material, the carbon-nitrogen ratio, the presence of adequate nutrients, the absence of toxic levels of materials that can limit microbial growth, and adequate porosity to allow diffusion of oxygen into the organic material for aerobic decomposition of the organic material. Stability of the end product and its potential to produce nuisance odors, and/or to be a breeding area for flies, depends uppn the degree of organic material decomposition and the final moisture content. Additional information and guidance about alternatives for composting manures are available in the On-Farm Composting Handbook (Rynk, 1992) and in the National Engineering Handbook, Part 637, Chapter 2 (USDA-NRCS, 2000). The occurrence of leachate from the composting material can be minimized by controlling the initial moisture content of the composting mixture to less than 70 percent and controlling water additions to the composting material from rainfall. Either a fleece blanket or a roofed structure can be used as a cover to control rainfall additions or leachate from composting windrows. Provisions should be made to control and/or treat leachate and runoff to protect groundwater and surface water. If the composting process is conducted without a cover, provisions must be made to collect the surface runoff and it either be temporarily stored (see Section IV) and applied to land (see Section V), added to the composting material for moisture control during the composting process, or applied to vegetated infiltration areas (see Section II).
Rainfall on our compost pile does not generate runoff. The rainfall is added straight to the composting material as moisture control.

Application of Manure to Land 
19. Incorporate manure into soil during, or as soon as possible after, application. This can be done by (a) soil injection or (b) incorporation within 48 hours after a surface application when weather conditions permit. Incorporation may not be feasible where manures are applied to pastures, forage crops, wheat stubble, or where no-till practices are used to retain crop residues for erosion control. 
We apply dried rabbit manure to our garden beds. It is mixed into the soil before and after planting season, and is allowed to sit and decompose on top of the soil as a mulch if added after plants have emerged. We do not use liquid manure or fresh manure in order to keep the odors down.

Construction Design 
20. Construction design for manure storage and treatment facilities must meet standards and specifications. 
21. To protect groundwater from possible contamination, utilize earthen liners that meet standards and specifications that meet acceptable seepage rates. 

22. All manure storage structures shall maintain a minimum freeboard of twelve inches (six inches for fabricated structures) plus the additional storage volume necessary to contain the precipitation and runoff from a 25-year, 24-hour storm event.

V. MANURE APPLICATION TO LAND One of the best uses of animal manure is as a fertilizer for crop production. Recycling plant nutrients from the crop to animals and back to the soil for growth of crops again is an age-old tradition. Depending on the species of animal, 70-80 percent of the nitrogen (N), 60-85 percent of the phosphorus (P), and 80-90 percent of the potassium (K) fed to the animals as feed will be excreted in the manure and potentially available for recycling to soils. Livestock operations can generate large amounts of manure and increase the challenge of recycling manure nutrients for crop production. Good management is the key to ensure that the emphasis is on manure utilization rather than on waste disposal. Utilizing manure nutrients to supply the needs of crops and avoiding excessive loadings achieves two desirable goals. First, efficient use of manure nutrients for crop production will accrue economic benefits by reducing the amounts of commercial fertilizers needed. Second, water quality concerns for potential contamination of surface waters and groundwater by nutrients, microorganisms and other substances from manure can best be addressed when nutrients are applied at agronomic rates and all GAAMPs for manure applications are followed.
We love to use our animal manure as fertilizer for our crops. That is why we compost it in the case of poultry manure, or add it in straight if it's rabbit or goat manure. This provides us numerous benefits. We're not looking to store manure or dispose of it, but utilize it as a free fertilizer and recycle the nutrients in it. We can meet the needs of our crops and grow healthy, chemical free food at the same time.

Soil Fertility Testing 23. All fields used for the production of agricultural crops should have soils sampled and tested on a regular basis to determine where manure nutrients can best be utilized.
One goal of a well-managed manure application program is to utilize soil testing and fertilizer recommendations as a guide for applying manures. This will allow as much of the manure nutrients as possible to be used for supplying crop nutrient requirements. Any additional nutrients needed by the crop can be provided by commercial fertilizers.
We do not regularly test our soils. All the beds get an even amount of manure and compost at the start and the end of the growing season. Because we are a small farm, and keep both the number of animals and the amount of growing space small, we do not have an abundance of manure or an abundance of fields that need treated. We only produce crops in raised beds and the growing area is less than 1/4 of an acre. It is sufficient to apply what we have to all of the beds in an equal amount. Crop rotation strategies help us to manage nutrient levels as well.

Fertilizer Recommendations 24. Use current fertilizer recommendations, consistent with those of Michigan State University (MSU), to determine the total nutrient needs for crops to be grown on each field that could have manure applied.
We do not use fertilizer on our crops - only dry rabbit manure and compost.

Manure Analysis 25. To determine the nutrient content of manure, analyze it for percent dry matter (solids), ammonium N (NH4-N), and total N, P, and K.
The NPK of rabbit manure is 2.4-1.4-0.6. The NPK of average homemade compost is 0.5-0.27-0.81.
From Rise and Shine Rabbitry:
"Nitrogen(N)- Rabbit manure is higher in nitrogen than sheep, goat, pig, chicken, cow or horse manure. Plants need nitrogen to produce a lush green growth. Nitrogen helps plants grow greener and stronger helping the plant reach its full potential. This is great for all those quick growing salad greens! Great for the early growth of tomatoes, corn, and many other vegetables.

Phosphorus(P)- Rabbit manure is also higher in phosphorus than the other manures. It helps with the transformation of solar energy to chemical energy. Which in turn helps with proper plant growth. Phosphorus also helps plants to withstand stress. Phosphorus in the soil encourages more and bigger blossoms helping with flowering and fruiting also great for root growth.

Potassium(K)- Potassium helps with fruit quality and reduction of disease plants will not grow without it. Plants use potassium as an enzyme to produce proteins and sugars.They also uses potassium to control water content.

More than just the awsome NPK values of rabbit manure it is loaded with a host of micro-nutrients as well as organic matter that improves soil structure, drainage, and moisture retention. Vegetable gardens, pastures, and flower gardens all will benefit from using rabbit manure. It helps retain soil moisture and soil structure.

Rabbit manure is one of the few fertilizers that will not burn your plants when added directly to the garden and can be safely used on food plants.

Grab a handful from under the hutch and use it as is, or work it into the topsoil. Rabbit manure at first glance many seem to be less powerful than commercial fertilizers but in reality they are better and healthier for your garden providing food and nourishment for your plants as well as earthworms and other beneficial animals and microorganisms in your soil. So why use chemical additives that are know to kill all soil life. Some manures have to be aged so they do not harm your garden, Bunny Berries can be used fresh as is. This is also a very organic way to add nutrients back to you soil." Source: https://riseandshinerabbitry.com/2012/03/31/the-benefits-and-uses-of-rabbit-manure/

Manure Nutrient Loadings 26. The agronomic (fertilizer) rate of N recommended for crops (consistent with current MSU N fertilizer recommendations) should not be exceeded by the amount of available N added, either by manure applied, or by manure plus fertilizer N applied, and/or by other N sources. For legume crops, the removal value of N may be used as the maximum N rate for manure applications. The available N per ton or per 1000 gallons of manure should be determined by using a manure analysis and the appropriate mineralization factors for organic N released during the first growing season following application and the three succeeding growing seasons.
27. If the Bray P1 soil test level for P reaches 150 lb./acre3 (75 ppm), manure applications should be managed at an agronomic rate where manure P added does not exceed the P removed by the harvested crop. (If this manure rate is impractical due to manure spreading equipment or crop production management, a quantity of manure P equal to the amount of P removed by up to four crop years may be applied during the first crop year. If no additional fertilizer or manure P is applied for the remaining crop years, and the rate does not exceed the N fertilizer recommendations for the first crop grown). If the Bray P1 soil test reaches 300 lb./acre (150 ppm) or higher, manure applications should be discontinued until nutrient harvest by crops reduces P test levels to less than 300 lb./acre. To protect surface water quality against discharges of P, adequate soil and water conservation practices should be used to control runoff, erosion and leaching to drain tiles from fields where manure is applied.

Method of Manure Application 
28. Manures should be uniformly applied to soils. The amount of manure applied per acre (gallons/acre or tons/acre) should be known, so manure nutrients can be effectively managed. 
29. Manures should not be applied to soils within 150 feet of surface waters or to areas subject to flooding unless: (a) manures are injected or surface-applied with immediate incorporation (i.e., within 48 hours after application) and/or (b) conservation practices are used to protect against runoff and erosion losses to surface waters. 30. Liquid manure applications should be managed in a manner to optimize nutrient utilization and not result in ponding, soil erosion losses, or manure runoff to adjacent property, drainage ditches or surface water. Manure applications to crop land with field drainage tiles should be managed in a manner to keep the manure within the root zone of the soil and to prevent manure from reaching tile lines.
31. As land slopes increase from zero percent, the risk of runoff and erosion also increases, particularly for liquid manure. Adequate soil and water conservation practices should be used which will control runoff and erosion for a particular site, taking into consideration such factors as type of manure, bedding material used, surface residue or vegetative conditions, soil type, slope, etc.
All manure is applied uniformly at specific times of the year. Our amount of application is 6 cubic feet of rabbit manure to each 3'x6' raised bed. We do not have any sources of surface water or areas subject to flooding. We do not apply liquid manure. Since we garden in raised beds on a level surface, we do not have to worry about land slope.

Timing of Manure Application 32. Where application of manure is necessary in the fall rather than spring or summer, using as many of the following practices as possible will help to minimize potential loss of NO3-N by leaching: (a) apply to medium or fine rather than to coarse textured soils; (b) delay applications until soil temperatures fall below 50ºF; and/or (c) establish cover crops before or after manure application to help remove NO3-N by plant uptake.
33. Application of manure to frozen or snow-covered soils should be avoided, but where necessary, (a) solid manures should only be applied to areas where slopes are six percent or less and (b) liquid manures should only be applied to soils where slopes are three percent or less. In either situation, provisions must be made to control runoff and erosion with soil and water conservation practices, such as vegetative buffer strips between surface waters and soils where manure is applied.
We apply our rabbit manure after the temperatures fall below 50 degrees Fahrenheit and before the soil freezes

Management of Manure Applications to Land 34. Records should be kept of manure analyses, soil test reports, and rates of manure application for individual fields. Records should include manure analysis reports and the following information for individual fields: a. soil fertility test reports; b. date(s) of manure application(s); c. rate of manure applied (e.g., gallons or wet tons per acre); d. previous crops grown on the field; and e. yields of past harvested crops. Good record keeping demonstrates good management and will be beneficial for the producer. An important ingredient of a successful program for managing the animal manure generated by a livestock operation is "planning ahead". An early step of a manure application plan is to determine whether enough acres of cropland are available for utilizing manure nutrients without resulting in excess nutrient application to soils. This is often referred to as ‘agronomic balance”.
Because of our Standard Operating Procedures where we spread ~6 cubic feet of rabbit manure over every 3'x8' raised bed twice a year (spring and fall), we always know how much manure was used, where it was applied, and when. We also keep records of what crops were grown on each garden bed. While I do not track yields currently, we have in the past. Much planning and forethought goes into each aspect of Kaninchen Farm and we strive to utilize all the resources that we have in a responsible manner that always betters our soil health. We do not keep more livestock than we can use (including manure on our land), and we do everything we can to minimize odor and noise for our neighbors. We have a current Manure Management System Plan (MMSP) in place and utilize it.

2018 Nutrient Utilization GAAMPS

Coming Soon but the short answer is... We don't use any fertilizers besides our homemade compost and the bunny berries.

2018 Irrigation Water Use GAAMPS

Coming Soon but the short answer is... We water as needed, and with a single rotating sprinkler. Water for our orchard is done with reclaimed water from the rain barrel.

2018 Pesticide Utilization and Pest Control GAAMPS

Coming Soon but the short answer is...We only use pesticides when necessary. The pesticides we use are certified for use in Certified Organic operations or Certified Naturally Grown operations and are Bt and Neem Oil. We prefer to treat with natural means if necessary (milk, lemon juice, herbal teas).