Developing springs for livestock
Tap into a natural spring on your property to provide water for livestock. Spring-fed systems are a dependable supply of high-quality water year-round.
Radio interview source: Jeff Bettinger, District Conservationist, NRCS
Springs help keep water level constant and your livestock will enjoy the cool water.
Jeff Bettinger is a district conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, or NRCS. He says if livestock are currently drinking from a pond, a stream, or mud holes, collecting water from a spring will provide far better water quality.
The best time to look for a spring is during the driest time of year.
"If you can find some water that's seeping out of the ground and moving along the surface, chances are it will be there year-round for you," he says. "And it may not be a tremendous amount of water, but if you collect it over a 24-hour period, it will surprise you how much volume that will make."
For example, a spring flowing at one-half-gallon-per minute will produce 720-gallons in a day. With a tank for storage, this could provide drinking water for 10-or-more beef cows.
Ideally, the spring should be tapped uphill from the water collection tank. Dig a trench and line it with 4-inch tile. Then backfill with gravel or stone, which provides a collection area for the water to seep into.
"Once we get it into that 4-inch perforated pipe, then we switch to 4-inch solid PVC pipe," says Bettinger. "Then we build a little dam around that pipe so that it forces it into the 4-inch pipe. Once we get it into that pipe, then we've got the water caught."
The water is then piped in to a trough, such as an old tire, or concrete tank. Since the spring runs continuously, there also needs to be an overflow provision from the trough.
Before you dig, be sure to check for any needed permits. The NRCS can help you plan and implement the project.
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