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A newborn animal is made up of 75%-80% water while 50% of a mature animal is water. Water is needed for digestion, absorbing nutrients, excreting waste and regulating body temperature. It is essential that pasture animals have an adequate source of clean water available at all times.
Most livestock drink very little at night and, given free access to water, drink between grazing cycles.
Blue-Green Algae Poisoning
Animals drinking from standing water in the summer are potentially exposed to poisoning by blue-green algae. Long periods of warm weather and a high content of organic matter in slow moving or stagnant water can produce bluegreen algae blooms. The algae produces a toxin that can cause chronic or acute poisoning. Symptoms of poisoning develop very rapidly and resemble an allergic reaction. Small amounts of poison cause weakness and staggering. There may be inflammation of the muzzle, the skin of the ear, the udder, or other parts of the body. Jaundice is often seen, and constipation is a common symptom.
Livestock Watering System Alternatives
Fence livestock from streams and provide an alternate water source. This benefits the health of your herd and the environment. If hydro is unavailable or water supply a problem, review the alternatives outlined below, paying particular attention to water source development and transfer mechanisms.
The purpose of spring development is to increase the flow of water, improve its accessibility and prevent contamination.
Excavated off-spring ponds are the only type you can use for stock watering, since they will not affect or be affected by local stream water quality Ponds must be located in impervious soils of high clay content to prevent seepage.
Discuss where to place a well with a competent well driller. When suitable, locate the well in an accessible area convenient to pastures and near a storage reservoir if needed. If possible, locate the well to take advantage of gravity flow to the point of use.
Moving Water with Pump and Gravity Systems Gravity
The ability of water to flow from higher to lower elevations makes a gravity system the one to utilize whenever possible. With no moving parts or energy inputs, these systems can provide dependable, low-maintenance service.
Photovoltaic (PV) or solar panels can be used to power pumping systems for a wide range of output requirements. Solar systems can be very reliable and low in maintenance, but are expensive and require good design for practical service.
This pump was designed by Paul Heissler of Frankford, Ontario. It is an inexpensive system and can be built from materials around the farm. It has a 12 volt submersible pump sitting in shallow water driven by a tractor battery. A 45 gallon drum acts as a reservoir with a float to control water level. A small trough is attached. Water flows into the trough by gravity as the livestock drink it down. The pump will deliver 22 gallons per minute. The more energy required for pumping water the more often the battery needs recharging.
Hydraulic ram pumps have been used since the 1700s. New designs with the same principles are being used today. Falling water is required to operate a hydraulic ram pump. If installed correctly the pump moves water as high as 10 times the fall. The weight of falling water drives a lesser amount to an elevation above the source of supply. The pump operates on the basis of the falling water opening and closing 2 valves with air pressure forcing the water to its destination.
In the past, windmills have been a proven part of the farm enterprise and could find greater use for livestock water purposes today. Though now a fairly expensive technology, currently manufactured windmills are reliable and need little maintenance, equal to their antique counterparts.
Pasture (Nose) Pumps
Using a simple pumping mechanism to draw water to a bowl, the nose pump is a good alternative to instream watering. Installation is quick and easy - easy enough to use as portable system for rotation pastures. Animals push a plunger with their nose to move water with a diaphragm pump into a bowl.
A slingpump is powered by flowing water or wind. It floats on top of the water and is anchored in the water. A water powered pump is driven by water flowing past the pump. This rotates the propellers and will pump 24 hr/day.
Gasoline Engine Powered Pumps
Portable gasoline-powered pumps are available that offer reliable service for water transfer where other systems are impractical. The major drawback with this system is the need for operator supervision during pumping and attention to the water volume in storage to assure a constant supply.