Don't Forget the Suffering Drought Causes

US - Use good times to invest in water on your operation, and bear in mind that cattle prefer drinking from a tank rather than a pond.
calendar icon 10 December 2014
clock icon 2 minute read

A team of MidWest catchment experts are telling beef producers that now is a great time to either modify existing water resources or add new.

And when geography imposes challenges, producers can turn to the sun for answers.

Whether pumping water from a well, pond, stream or spring, extension advisers at the University of Kansas recommend solar pumps.

They are gaining popularity, replacing windmills, are cost-efficient and require “no fuel and very little attention”.

Ponds in particular may require careful handling, added the team. 

Citing a range of studies, the team states that sedimentation, erosion and winter ice make ponds hazardous to animal health.

For those farming in regions with many ponds, such as Kansas, there are two things to do.

“One involves putting a pipeline through the dam and gravity feeding a tank below the pond dam,” advised the extension article. “Once the tank is installed, the pond can be fenced, keeping cattle from direct access.”

However, elevation is not always sufficient and so pond fencing is required, limiting access.

When combined with a small area, similar to a boat ramp, topped with geotextile fabric and then gravelled, the hardened peninsula keep cattle away from pond side, explained the experts in the regular Beef Tips publication.

The approach should have no more than a 6:1 slope.

Looking forward, rain is predicted to remain elusive at times in the coming years.

The well documented large scale herd liquidation and subsequent market tumult of recent droughts is still fresh in the memory, the Kansas State article explained.

This is why steps to offer security of water, both in terms of quality and quantity, are a must, wrote a grazing specialist in the midst of the 2012 drought.

Lance Smith of the Natural Resources Conservation Service message was that drought is unavoidable in general but the effects can be minimised.

He warned that, if not monitored, water stores become toxic.

He added that grazing pressure can be managed by speeding up or slowing grazing rotation and stocking rates should offer “flexibility” of 20 per cent, with 80 per cent stocking.

Numbers can be lifted when rain comes.

Supplementary forage, early weaning and stock relocation were other methods as part of his message to US cattlemen battling a widespread and severe drought.

Further Reading

Read more about water as a precious resource at our Water Page by clicking here.

Michael Priestley

Michael Priestley
News Team - Editor

Mainly production and market stories on ruminants sector. Works closely with sustainability consultants at FAI Farms

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