Minimize a Mess from Livestock During the Spring Melt
Rapid snowmelt and rainfall may be causing headaches for many livestock owners this spring. With all this water, it can be challenging to manage animal waste so that it does not mix with snowmelt and runoff and enter surface water. Now is a great time for livestock owners to re-evaluate their facilities to establish conditions that divert clean water away from areas with mud and manure to minimize mixing of the snow melt and surface runoff with manure.
Mud is more than just a mess or nuisance. Snow melt and spring rains can cause soil to run-off into nearby water bodies which can degrade water quality. Severe erosion can be quite dangerous resulting in loss of land and property. Additionally, muddy areas can be unhealthy for you, livestock and wildlife. Animals standing or walking though mud can be exposed to foot and other health problems. These moist areas are also breeding grounds for bacteria, flies, and other insects. But, by following some simple land management practices you can minimize these and other potential mud problems on your property.
- A simple, but effective step you can take is to cover manure and soil piles as well as areas of ground that are not vegetated. By simply tossing a tarp over these mud-producing areas, you can avoid potentially sticky situations. A tarp-covered manure pile will protect water quality by not leaching nutrients into surface or groundwater.
- Install gutters and downspouts on all structures on your property, including barns and sheds. Use your downspouts to direct clean roof runoff into streams, ditches or heavily vegetated areas. This will prevent that clean roof water from picking up pollutants and minimize soil erosion and mud around structures.
- Livestock should be removed from pastures, and confined to a holding area, paddock or corral during wet months. Careful consideration should be given to the location of these livestock holding areas. Choose a well drained area away from existing streams, ponds, or other clean water. Gravel, sand or other paddock footings can be used to keep mud from forming in these areas.
- Fence livestock out of streams and riparian areas. If this is the animal’s primary source of water, consider pumping water to a nearby trough. There are solar panels for pumps that are located away from electrical power sources. If this is not an option, providing a “water gap” or restricted access point to the stream will reduce erosion.
Clean water, less mud, and drier, healthier livestock are the result of following these simple management practices. Please join the effort to keep our creeks, rivers and streams healthy. Technical help, advice and cost assistance is available. Contact us for more information!