Conservation Corner

Dec 06


The original item was published from December 6, 2019 9:37 AM to December 6, 2019 10:01 AM

nose pump
Help keep your livestock out of local waterbodies with this Off-Stream Watering Device, or Nose Pump, which is now available for loan in our farm resources. The loan is free with a $50 deposit.

Stream, pond, and lake banks are all susceptible to the same types of damage from livestock. And since water from most lakes and ponds outlets into a creek, what happens to the lake or pond impacts streams as well. Sediment from eroded soil due to hoof traffic entering waterways covers fish spawning gravels, smothers eggs, clogs fish gills, and changes water temperatures and degrades overall water quality. It also reduces water clarity making the water appear cloudy or muddy. Nutrients found in manure such as nitrogen and phosphorus are substances needed for plant growth; however, elevated nutrient levels in surface water can cause excessive aquatic plant growth. This can cause bumper crops of algae or aquatic weeds. As these plants decay, they consume oxygen, resulting in decreased dissolved oxygen levels in the water. This can lead to fish or other aquatic organism deaths. Pathogens are disease causing bacteria and viruses associated with the presence of fecal matter from humans or animals. Pathogens such as giardia, E. coli and cryptosporidium can contaminate drinking water and negatively affect livestock health through decreased weight gain, lower milk production and overall reduced animal health.

One option to employ to restrict livestock from water bodies but still allow access to this water as a drinking source, are nose pumps. Animals quickly learn to use these devices, and PCD now has two available for loan along with our temporary electric fencing kits if you would like to try out this option to see if it will work for your operation prior to building anything permeant. If you decide that you like this system, we may even be able to help you secure funding to implement it on your property.

Managing Winter Mud
Winter in Western Washington – over 15 inches rain can fall in the short period between December and February. The amount of rainfall we get means that barnyard mud can become a serious concern for aesthetics, livestock health, and our enjoyment of the management we need to carry out this time of year. If you’re struggling with mud this winter, the Conservation District can help. Contact one of our Farm Planning and Agricultural Assistance staff members to help develop your plan to tackle mud management on your property. In the meantime, here’s 3 quick tips to help get you through to springtime:
  1. Designate a small sacrifice area that will take the impact of livestock over the winter. This will help save the rest of your pasture from compaction, plugging, and other side affects of winter livestock use. Be sure to choose an area at least 100 feet away from your well head and surface water. 
  2. Pick manure daily from your sacrifice area. As highly organic material, manure can hold a lot of water. In addition, as it mixes with spilled hay and the underlaying soil, it can worsen mud problems. Picking manure also means you can store it for use as fertilizer next spring. 
  3. Install gutters on the barn to route the clean roof water away from your sacrifice area. Having livestock confined around the barn makes perfect sense for feeding and shelter. However, the roof area of barns can deliver a tremendous amount of water to your sacrifice area. Water being a prime ingredient to mud problems, diverting roof water to a suitable location will reduce your mud headache immediately. 
If you’re interested in learning more about managing mud and manure, join our Mid-Winter Mud and Manure Management class on January 12th for an in-depth look at the topic. See our workshops section for more information.

Call us for assistance - we are here to help (253) 845-9770.