STREAMSIDE LIVESTOCK EXCLUSION: A tool for increasing farm income and improving water quality
Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation; Virginia Cooperative Extension , 2007
Zeckoski, R.W., Benham, B., Lunsford, C.
Did you know that livestock, like humans, prefer a clean water source and are healthier and more productive when they drink clean water? Virginia producers who have restricted or eliminated livestock access to streams and farm ponds and converted to a clean, alternative water source have observed increased livestock productivity, improved water quality, and restored stream banks on their farms. As a consequence, livestock stream exclusion practices are gaining popularity across Virginia. This publication, produced through the cooperation of Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, describes the findings, experiences, and successes of individual producers who are limiting livestock stream access. Two sources of information were used to develop this publication. First, a literature review was conducted to compile data related to restricted livestock stream access; these data included production, herd health, economic, and water quality benefits. The literature review yielded data related to both complete livestock exclusion and partial restriction through the use of off-stream waterers to lure cattle from the stream. Second, 20 producers from across Virginia who had restricted livestock stream access on their farms were interviewed. During the interviews, producers provided information related to their positive as well as some negative experiences with livestock exclusion systems. Several watersheds in Virginia are highlighted in this publication where livestock exclusion from streams has resulted in significant water quality improvements. Significant reductions in the violation rate of the bacteria water quality standard are evident as agricultural producers fenced stream access areas and provided alternative sources of water. Livestock were fenced from the stream through voluntary conservation actions on the part of landowners as well as through government cost-share assistance programs.