Impact of water troughs on cattle use of riparian zones in the Georgia Piedmont in the United States
Journal of Animal Science , 87 , 2009

Franklin, D.H., Cabrera, M.L., Byers, H.L., Matthews, M.K., Andrae, J.G., Radcliffe, D.E., McCann, M.A., Kuykendall, H.A., Hoveland, C.S., Calvert, V.H.

Cattle use of riparian areas may lead to stream water contamination with nutrients, pathogens, and sediments. Providing alternative water away from the stream may reduce the amount of time cattle spend near streams and therefore reduce contamination. We conducted this study to 1) evaluate the effect of providing water troughs outside of the riparian zones on the amount of time cattle spend in riparian zones, and 2) evaluate if environmental factors such as temperature and humidity affect the impact of water trough availability on the amount of time cattle spend within riparian and nonriparian locations. Global positioning system (GPS) collars were used to document cow locations every 5 min in 2 mixed tall fescue/common bermudagrass pastures of the Georgia Piedmont in the United States. We found that when the temperature and humidity index (THI) ranged between 62 and 72, providing cattle with water troughs outside of riparian zones tended to decrease time cattle spent in riparian zones by 63% (52 min·d−1; P = 0.11) . When THI ranged between 72 and 84, nonriparian water availability did not have a significant impact on the amount of time cattle spent in the riparian zone or in riparian shade. These results suggest that water troughs placed away from unfenced streams may improve water quality by reducing the amount of time cattle spend in riparian zones when environmental conditions as evaluated by THI are not stressful.