Animal Industry Report

Extension Number

ASL R2440



Summary and Implications

Congregation of cattle near pasture streams increases fecal cover and decreases forage sward height and mass, thereby, increasing the risks of sediment, nutrients, and fecal pathogens entering the stream and impairing water quality. Restricting access to the streams to stabilized stream crossings or by providing alternative water sources away from the stream may decrease the amount of time that cattle spend near a stream and, thereby, reduce the risk of nonpoint source pollution. Six 30-acre cool-season grass pastures, bisected by a stream, were split into two blocks with three treatments per block. Treatments were: continuous stocking with unrestricted stream access (CSU), continuous stocking with access to the stream restricted to a 16-foot wide stabilized stream crossing (CSR), and rotational stocking (RS). Cattle spent a greater proportion of time in the stream in CSU pastures than other treatments in June (P < 0.05), August (P < 0.05), and September (P < 0.10). During May to July, and in September, cattle in CSU pastures spent a greater (P < 0.05) percentage of time within 110 feet of the stream than in CSR or RS pastures. Offstream water had no effect on cattle distribution near the stream (P > 0.10) in a summer in which there was considerable precipitation resulting in some of natural offstream water sources.

Copyright Holder

Iowa State University