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Animals 2014, 4(4), 670-692; doi:10.3390/ani4040670

Off-Stream Watering Systems and Partial Barriers as a Strategy to Maximize Cattle Production and Minimize Time Spent in the Riparian Area

1
Ducks Unlimited Canada, Calgary, T2Z 3V6, Canada
2
Department of Animal Science, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, R3T 2N2, Canada
3
Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Agassiz, V0M 1A0, Canada
4
Department of Soil Science, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, R3T 2N2, Canada
5
Centre for Carbon, Water and Food, Faculty of Agriculture and Environment, The University of Sydney, Camden, NSW 2570, Australia
6
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 2701 Grand Valley Rd, Brandon, R7A 5Y3, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 7 July 2014 / Revised: 21 October 2014 / Accepted: 22 October 2014 / Published: 29 October 2014
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Simple Summary

The implementation of off-stream waterers (OSW) may reduce the amount of time cattle spend in riparian areas, thus minimizing impacts such as removal of vegetation, soil compaction, and deterioration in water quality. Furthermore, when used with natural barriers as a partial exclusion method, these management strategies may offer a cost-effective alternative to completely excluding cattle via streambank fencing. This study was conducted to determine the impact of OSW and barriers on animal performance and watering behavior. The presence of OSW had no significant effect on cow and calf weights averaged over the grazing season. Although the results were not consistent over the periods and locations, the data provided some indication of the efficacy of the natural barriers on deterring cattle from the riparian area. Cattle watered at the OSW when available, but they did not use the OSW exclusively. The observed inconsistency may, in part, be attributed to the environmental conditions present during this field trial.

Abstract

A study was conducted in 2009 at two locations in Manitoba (Killarney and Souris), Canada to determine the impact of off-stream waterers (OSW) with or without natural barriers on (i) amount of time cattle spent in the 10 m buffer created within the riparian area, referred to as the riparian polygon (RP), (ii) watering location (OSW or stream), and (iii) animal performance measured as weight gain. This study was divided into three 28-day periods over the grazing season. At each location, the pasture—which ranged from 21.0 ha to 39.2 ha in size—was divided into three treatments: no OSW nor barriers (1CONT), OSW with barriers along the stream bank to deter cattle from watering at the stream (2BARR), and OSW without barriers (3NOBARR). Cattle in 2BARR spent less time in the RP in Periods 1 (p = 0.0002), 2 (p = 0.1116), and 3 (p < 0.0001) at the Killarney site compared to cattle in 3NOBARR at the same site. Cattle in 2BARR at the Souris site spent more time in the RP in Period 1 (p < 0.0001) and less time in Period 2 (p = 0.0002) compared to cattle in 3NOBARR. Cattle did use the OSW, but not exclusively, as watering at the stream was still observed. The observed inconsistency in the effectiveness of the natural barriers on deterring cattle from the riparian area between periods and locations may be partly attributable to the environmental conditions present during this field trial as well as difference in pasture size and the ability of the established barriers to deter cattle from using the stream as a water source. Treatment had no significant effect (p > 0.05) on cow and calf weights averaged over the summer period. These results indicate that the presence of an OSW does not create significant differences in animal performance when used in extensive pasture scenarios such as those studied within the present study. Whereas the barriers did not consistently discourage watering at the stream, the results provide some indication of the efficacy of the OSW as well as the natural barriers on deterring cattle from the riparian area. View Full-Text
Keywords: riparian area; off-stream waterer; exclusion fencing; animal performance; Canada; cattle distribution; GPS riparian area; off-stream waterer; exclusion fencing; animal performance; Canada; cattle distribution; GPS
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Rawluk, A.A.; Crow, G.; Legesse, G.; Veira, D.M.; Bullock, P.R.; González, L.A.; Dubois, M.; Ominski, K.H. Off-Stream Watering Systems and Partial Barriers as a Strategy to Maximize Cattle Production and Minimize Time Spent in the Riparian Area. Animals 2014, 4, 670-692.

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