Keep livestock out of streams

Pictures from days gone by of cattle cooling off in a creek or shallow pond make a pleasing scene, but the image violates a major concept of conservationists. If you want to protect all natural resources, including streams, you need to keep animals out of the creek or stream.

Otherwise two things happen. First, cattle may defecate in the creek. Second, cattle are notorious for turning banks into mud. Norman Schue, Ferdinand, has found a better way to handle his small cattle herd. He provides water for them to drink so they no longer need to be in a creek.

Key Points

Cattle can defile creeks and streams in two ways.

Removing cattle from streams protects banks from erosion.

Cost-share funds for fencing are available from USDA in some areas.

Schue also fenced off his woods to keep cattle out. Foresters insist that cattle and timber don’t mix. If you’re raising land for potential timber sales, which Schue is, then you don’t want cattle in the woods. Instead, he intends to practice timber stand improvement.

Some Farm Service Agency programs offer cost-share funds for fencing animals out of creeks, streams and other bodies of water. Sometimes fencing cattle out of streams is one of the practices included in a multi-year EQIP agreement. Visit your local Natural Resource Conservation and FSA offices for more details.

Protecting ponds from livestock

Norman Schue’s farm has a pond on it that was constructed many years ago. He originally installed the pond because at the time he needed a water source for free-range turkeys.

These days Schue still has some cattle, although not as many as in earlier days. He makes sure that the cattle don’t have direct access to the pond.

Fencing cattle out of ponds is a priority for conservation experts, especially in rolling areas of Indiana.

For more information, contact your local NRCS and soil and water conservation district office.


Fence them out! The type of fence may vary, but the goal of conservationists today is to encourage cattlemen to fence livestock out of creeks and ponds.

This article published in the April, 2011 edition of INDIANA PRAIRIE FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2011.