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Water Development for Effective Grazing

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Getting water to livestock is one of the challenges to managed grazing systems. It’s also a problem for graziers trying to take advantage of crop residues to extend the grazing season. No one wants a permanent tank in a crop field, or the soil compaction that livestock can cause by congregating to drink. To help folks solve these problems, Jason Gross and Rick Stowell created “Fence and Water Development for Effective Grazing,” a University of Nebraska – Lincoln Extension publication.

In Chapter 4, “Basic Water Supply System Design,” you’ll find a description of a portable tank and water tubing system that can be expanded to fit your needs without the expense of permanent fixtures. By choosing tubing and fittings made for the job, you can tow your tanks and tubing from pasture to pasture with an ATV. The authors take you through all steps of the process, from installing portable air/vacuum vents to figuring out pressure and water flow so that you’re sure that flow capacity will match your livestock numbers. They include pictures of portable tanks being towed, and how to secure the tubing as you’re making moves. They even show you how you can design your system to make water flow up hill.

Portable tank about to be towed to a new location. Photo by Jason Gross


This kind of system could make a big difference to a lot of On Pasture readers, but there’s a lot to consider as you try to put it together. If you’re not an expert in water engineering there are folks nearby who could help you. Check in with your local Natural Resources Conservation Service or Conservation District office, or find an Extension Agent. Tell them what you’re trying to do. Many offices have people who have the background and experience to help. They might also be able to point you in the direction of funding assistance. Remember, moving livestock as part of a grazing plan to improve your profitability while conserving and enhancing natural resources and wildlife habitat is a covered practice for many NRCS funding programs.

Want to take a look at other water development options? Check out these articles from On Pasture’s archives.

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Kathy Voth
Kathy Vothhttps://onpasture.com
I am the founder, editor and publisher of On Pasture, now retired. My career spanned 40 years of finding creative solutions to problems, and sharing ideas with people that encouraged them to work together and try new things. From figuring out how to teach livestock to eat weeds, to teaching range management to high schoolers, outdoor ed graduation camping trips with fifty 6th graders at a time, building firebreaks with a 130-goat herd, developing the signs and interpretation for the Storm King Fourteen Memorial trail, receiving the Conservation Service Award for my work building the 150-mile mountain bike trail from Grand Junction, Colorado to Moab, Utah...well, the list is long so I'll stop with, I've had a great time and I'm very grateful.

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