Document Type

General - Feed & Water

Publication Date



Many livestock producers allow their animals free access to the rivers, streams and creeks that run through rural Tennessee. Along these surface water sources are areas commonly referred to as riparian zones. A wellvegetated riparian zone establishes a buffer between agricultural land and surface water sources. These buffer strips filter and purify water as it moves across the riparian zone, reduce sediment loads and support soil stability while providing additional benefits such as improved wildlife and fisheries habitat. Over time, allowing livestock access to these buffer areas can lead to poorly vegetated riparian zones with unstable, erosion-prone stream banks.

Livestock producers are hearing more these days about the need to protect water quality through riparian zone management. Allowing the riparian zone to revegetate by removing or limiting livestock access to these buffer areas is one method of protecting water quality. However, the major problem most livestock producers face when considering limiting cattle access to riparian zones is that these rivers, streams and creeks are the only water source for their livestock.

Fencing livestock out of these streams dictates the need for an alternative watering system. In areas where AC electric power is readily available, an AC-powered pump is by far the best choice for pumping water from the stream. More often than not, AC power is not available. Since the stream is generally lower in elevation than the fields bordering the riparian zone, gravity systems are usually not an option. Several alternative pumping systems are available, including ram, sling and solar-powered pumps. While ram and sling pumps require specific conditions to operate (i.e., adequate elevation head or stream velocity), solar pumps can be operated at any sunny location within reasonable elevation limits between the watering tank and water supply. For more information about alternative livestock watering options, see PB 1641, Selection of Alternative Livestock Watering Systems.

Publication Number

PB1640-1M-1/00 E12-2015-00-151-00

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