Will a Water Trough Reduce the Amount of Time Hay-Fed Livestock Spend in the Stream (And Therefore Improve Water Quality)?
Rangelands , 14 , 1992

Miner, J.R., Buckhouse, J.C., Moore, J.A.

The impact of grazing cattle on water quality is of con- siderable importance to water planning agencies. Many people are concerned over health implications of grazing cattle along Western U.S. streams. As use of rangeland streams increases, the possibility of contracting a bacte- rial disease from water increases. Bacteria from animal manures can be transferred to humans from natural waters. Bacteria in fecal matter deposited on rangeland may remain viable for at least one grazing season. In order for water to be part of the transmission process, however, the fecal matter must reach the stream. Under winter feeding conditions, the amount of time cattle spent drinking or loafing in the area of the stream was dramatically reduced by the presence of a watering tank. The amount of time that the animals spent in the stream was reduced by more than 90 percent. Even when the feed source was placed equal distance between the water tank and the stream, the water tank was effective in reducing the amount of time the cattle spent in the stream. I n terms of water quality, the relationship between time spent in the stream and fecal pollution is evident. Since it was possible under these cold and snowy conditions to eliminate 90 percent of the animals' wintertime use of the stream through the use of a watering tank, economic and environmental implications suggest that this may be a viable alternative to the total exclusion of livestock along sensitive stream systems.