The web browser you are using is out of date and no longer supported by this site. For the best experience, please consider updating your browser to the latest version.
Buy Online Pick Up in Store Now available - Tractor Supply Co.
Navigate to Shopping Cart
Cart Item Count
  • Left Arrow
    My Account
  • Left Arrow
    My Account
  • Make My Store

    Your nearest store doesn't match your preferred store. Do you want to change the nearest store as your preferred store?


    Click "YES" to clear all the customer data, cart contents and start new shopping session.

    Your current shopping session will get automatically reset in seconds.
    If you are still active user then please click "NO"

    Changing your store affects your localized pricing. This includes the price of items you already have in your shopping cart. Are you sure you want to change your store?

    Your nearest store doesn't match your preferred store. Do you want to change the nearest store as your preferred store?

    • To Shop Online
    • To Check In-Store Availability

    click here
    We do not share this information with anyone. For details,please view our Privacy Policy

    Keep Cattle out of Water | Fall 2014 Out Here Magazine

    Wading bovines cause erosion, water contamination

    cattle in a pasture grazing near a water source
    Out Here

    By Marilyn Thelen

    Photography by iStock

    Cattle in the creek have been the subject of many paintings and photos. But the damage caused when they trek across ditches and streams wreaks havoc.

    The erosion caused by cattle allowed to roam freely across the banks can be a constant source of sediment that gets into the stream every time it rains, even if livestock aren't present at the time.

    And shady stream banks present an even bigger problem. Livestock often linger in these areas, hoping to keep cool on warm days. The combination of trees and constant use creates a large, nonvegetated area subject to even more erosion.

    Sediment and pathogens are primary pollutants in surface waters. The problem with sediment is intensified when the sediments also contain livestock manure from areas where livestock congregate. In addition, when livestock are allowed to stand in streams, they often deposit urine and manure, which further contaminate the water.

    Researchers have looked at many management practices to reduce this impact, including:

    • Exclusion. The best way to make sure your livestock don't have a negative impact on streams and creeks is to not let livestock get close to them.
    • Keeping animals out of a stream requires a sturdy fence and proper placement. Low areas near streams are wet much of the year and experience flooding. Build the fence far enough away from the stream to keep animals out of these wet areas. Ensure posts have good footings, and fences will not be torn out by debris during flooding.

    • Flash grazing. Limit livestock access to the riparian area to three consecutive days for no more than three times per year. Select times when the footing is mostly solid. Also, select grasses for the riparian area that grow well in wet conditions and provide good cover.
    • Plants that do well under these conditions include reed canarygrass, switchgrass, smooth bromegrass, red clover, Italian ryegrass, timothy, alsike clover, and ladino clover. Be aware that reed canarygrass and smooth bromegrass are aggressive and can take over if they are not grazed intensively.

    • Ensure constant water. Livestock need a good supply of clean drinking water. The best watering system depends on resources available, herd size, and the type of grazing system.

    In general, surface water, gravity flow of water to a tank or pumping of water to a tank are the primary ways of providing water to grazing livestock.

    Typically, we think of pumps as the electric ones we use at the farmstead, but many types of pumps are available to use in more remote areas. These include solar pumps, sling pumps driven by flowing water, and nose pumps (livestock operate these pumps themselves and pump water from the creek), as well as power takeoff-driven pumps and pumps powered by wind, gasoline and diesel engines, and electric motors.

    Analyze each pump's strengths and weaknesses, and choose one that works best in your situation. Most people don't realize how inexpensive watering systems can be and how much improved grazing and manure distribution can benefit your operation.

    Just a few simple changes can have a positive impact on stream banks and water quality.

    Marilyn Thelen is an Michigan State University Extension educator based in Clinton County, Mich.


    Popular Pages on