Prep Now for Winter Livestock Care

For those of you with livestock, fall is a great time to prepare for the wet winter months ahead.  Most of us tend to accept mud and seasonal run-off as a part of winter.  But the truth of the matter is you can avoid most mud problems by taking a few steps to manage the water and manure on your land.  These steps will protect both your property and animals.

Begin by installing gutters and downspouts on all structures on your property, including barns and sheds. Use your downspouts to direct roof runoff away from buildings and animals.  Ideally the clean water will be diverted into streams, ditches, or heavily vegetated areas.  This will prevent mud around structures, soil erosion, and keep the rain water clean.

Livestock should be removed from pastures before the ground becomes saturated. Animals should be limited to a holding area, paddock or corral also known as a sacrifice area. Careful consideration should be given to the location, size and construction of these livestock holding areas. Choose a well-drained area away from existing streams, ponds, or other clean water. Rubber mats, gravel, sand, and geotextile fabric can be used to keep mud from forming in these areas.

Fence all livestock out of streams and riparian areas. If the stream is the animals’ primary source of water, consider pumping water to a nearby trough, or providing an alternative source of water.  If this is not an option, providing a “water gap” or a restricted access point to the stream will reduce erosion.

Covered manure piles protect water quality by not leaching nutrients into surface or groundwater.  By simply tossing a tarp over these problem areas, you can avoid potentially sticky situations.  If your manure pile is near an open waterway move it to higher ground. You may also consider building a simple manure storage facility

Following these simple management practices will result in less mud and clean water, not to mention drier, healthier livestock and a more functional property. Technical help and cost assistance may be available to implement these practices.  For more information, please contact Kris at (541) 386-4588 or kris@hoodriverswcd.org.


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