Building stream crossing for cattle | Living the Country Life

Building stream crossing for cattle

Cattle that have to walk through a stream to get to another pasture can damage the stream environment. Build a crossing for the cattle for a smooth transition to the other side.

Radio interview source: Steve Higgins, Director of Animal and Environmental Compliance, University of Kentucky

Cattle activity in and around a stream causes erosion, sediment build-up, and an increase in water pollutants. To help them get to the other side while protecting the stream, put in a crossing. Add exclusion fencing along the stream bank to provide the best results.
Steve Higgins is the director of animal and environmental compliance at the University of Kentucky. He says to install the crossing where the stream is straight, rather than meandering.
"The water doesn't have as much energy as far as most of the energy is running down through the center of the creek," he says. "If you put it in a meander, basically what's going to happen is things are going to change because on the inside of the turn, that's where sediment and rocks are deposited. On the outside of the turn, basically that's where a lot of cutting takes place. So if you put it in a straight stretch, then you don't have to worry about that deposition and that cutting out of the opposing banks."
Build the crossing during the drier parts of the year, because excavating and compacting activities are difficult in mud. Once grading is complete, install a non-woven geotextile fabric and rock to stabilize the approaches and the streambed. How much reinforcement is needed depends on the makeup of the stream. 
"In Kentucky, most of our stream beds have a rock bed, so we don't really have to worry about reinforcing the inside of the creek, so we just have the geotextile and the rock just go down to the slopes of the creek and terminate right there," says Higgins. "If you did have a mud base or an unstable bank, then what you'd want to use is a bigger material, what we call geogrid, and anchor that in, and use rock across that."
Don't put rock in the center of the stream, you risk damming it up. Concrete should also not be used because water eventually gets underneath. If you're interested in this project, contact the local Natural Resources Conservation Service office. 

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