We all know that there are significant downsides to cattle watering from ponds. When they poop in ponds there’s the algae and weed growth that ruins water quality. Loafing around ponds can lead to diseases like letospirosis and coccidiosis, or to foot rot. But sometimes ponds are our only viable water source. So what can we do to prevent problems and still use our ponds? Dirk Philipp and Kenny Simon have some ideas, and they’ve shared them in this Fact Sheet.
One option is to fence off the entire pond except for the part where the herd will be allowed to drink. Then, to prevent the cattle from wading in and enjoying the whole pond anyway, you can fence out the section available to them. Philipp and Simon provide instructions for building a floating fence with PVC pipe, or with polywire attached to floating posts. (You can build your own floating posts from an old paint bucket filled with foam and weighted at the bottom to keep the post upright.) The authors say that a floating fence width of 20 feet for a small herd and 40 feet for a herd of about 200.
You’ll need to prep your watering area for the heavy use it will get by installing a 6- to 12-inch layer of rock and covering it with gravel to prevent gullying. The gravel is also uncomfortable to stand on for long periods which will discourage cattle from hanging around too long. For more on how to make sure your watering site is durable, be sure to read the full fact sheet.
Drawing Water From Ponds
If you’re interested in using your pond for recreation, you may want to keep cattle out of it all together. In that case you can set up pumps to move water from the pond to a stock tank. Depending on your topography, you might be able to use gravity to move water from the pond to the tank. This requires larger pipes to get adequate flow. You can check out the fact sheet for more ideas on that.
For some good examples of how you can use solar power to move water from ponds to watering sites, here are a couple of videos too!
Beware of letting your animals drink from creeks and ponds. We rotational grazed our animals on rented land that had a creek and pond that the animals drank out of and we ended up getting Johnes in our herd. We investigated and found out a farm that was along the creek had Johnes so alot of of our young stock born on the property ended up with Johnes but the ones born on our property did not have it. We worked with the State Vet to get it out of our herd but it was devestating to our herd we lost some good animals. Johnes does spread through water. So just be careful.
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