Watering Systems for Rotational Grazing
Rotational grazing is a tool that can help increase forage production and average daily gain. But rotational grazing comes with more management planning. One of the biggest factors that determines the feasibility of rotational grazing is actually the water source for livestock. Because of the nomadic nature of rotational grazing, having good watering systems can be difficult. How you choose to tackle this problem should be answered well before you begin your rotation. In fact, how you choose to water in a rotational grazing system might determine your paddock grazing strategy. Some common ways to answer the water problem are having a centralized water station, a mobile water system or a hybrid, of sorts.
Centralized water system
This means that no matter which paddock you’re currently grazing, animals will have access to the same water source. The advantages of this system are you can have only one water source for multiple paddocks. So upkeep only involves one water source. The disadvantage is that this water source needs to have a large enough area to provide for the animals. Also the area around the water source will become barren due to the frequent travel of the animals. Some producers choose to pour concrete around their water source to reduce mud and erosion.
A mobile system involves moving water with the animals. This can be a costly enterprise, as hauling water requires fairly heavy equipment. A water tank on a trailer or truck works well. Depending on the elevation of the water and paddock, you may need a pump in order to move the water from the mobile source to a trough. While a mobile system is possible, it’s only feasible for relatively small operations.
A hybrid like system will incorporate aspects of both centralized and mobile systems. A hybrid system may look like having several wells or pond around the area but using only one mobile pump. This way you have established areas for water, but the mechanism that draws the water is moved. Moving the pump is much easier than moving an entire water source, like in the mobile system, but still allows for flexible paddock sizes unlike the central system.
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