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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Impact of water troughs on cattle use of riparian zones in the Georgia Piedmont in the United States

Authors
item Franklin, Dorcas
item Cabrera, M - UGA
item Harris, H - UGA
item Matthews, M - UGA
item Andrae, J - CLEMSON UNIVERSITY
item Radcliffe, D - UGA
item Mccann, M - VPI
item Kuykendall, H - USDA-NRCS
item Hoveland, C - UGA
item Calvert Ii, V - UGA

Submitted to: Journal of Animal Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: February 20, 2009
Publication Date: March 13, 2009
Repository URL: http://www.springerlink.com/content/c10203k0636535k1/
Citation: Franklin, D.H., Cabrera, M.L., Harris, H.L., Matthews, M.K., Andrae, J.G., Radcliffe, D.E., Mccann, M.A., Kuykendall, H.A., Hoveland, C.S., Calvert II, V.H. 2009. Impact of water troughs on cattle use of riparian zones in the Georgia Piedmont in the United States. Journal of Animal Science. 87:2151-2159.

Interpretive Summary: Cattle use of streams and adjoining or stream-side areas (riparian areas) may lead to stream water contamination with nutrients, pathogens, and sediments. Providing a drinking water source for cattle away from the stream and the riparian areas may reduce the amount of time cattle spend near streams and therefore reduce contamination. Scientists from the USDA-ARS J. Phil Campbell Sr., Natural Resource Conservation Center, the University of Georgia, USDA-NRCS, Clemson, SC, and Virginia Polytechnic. conducted this study to 1) evaluate the effect of providing water outside of the riparian areas on the amount of time cattle spend in riparian area, and 2) evaluate if environmental factors such as temperature and humidity affect the impact of off-stream water availability on the amount of time cattle spend within riparian and non-riparian locations. A tracking system, called Global Positioning System (GPS) was placed in collars which were attached around cows’ necks. The GPS systems were used to document cow locations every 5 min in two pastures of the Georgia Piedmont, USA. We found that when the Temperature and Humidity Index (THI) ranged between 62 and 72 (THI 62-72) providing cattle with off-stream water troughs reduced the amount of time cattle spent in riparian areas by 65% each day . When THI ranged between 72 and 84 (THI 72-84) non-riparian 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 be a feasible means for reducing the amount of time cattle spend in or near riparian areas in the cool and wet seasons. This information can be used by land management planners to develop more efficient nutrient management strategies to reduce contamination of nearby aquatic systems.

Technical Abstract: Cattle use of riparian areas may lead to stream water contamination with nutrients, pathogens, and sediments. Thus, 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 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 non-riparian locations. Global Positioning System (GPS) collars were used to document cow locations every 5 min in two mixed tall fescue/common bermudagrass pastures of the Georgia Piedmont, USA. We found that when the Temperature and Humidity Index (THI) ranged between 62 and 72 (THI 62-72) providing cattle with water troughs outside riparian zone decreased time cattle spent in riparian zone by 52 min d-1 (p>F=0.11) . When THI ranged between 72 and 84 (THI 72-84) non-riparian 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 be a feasible means for reducing the amount of time cattle spend in or near riparian zones.

Last Modified: 11/24/2014