Keep cow manure on pasture, out of pond

Mitch Baltz loves to see his cows on grass, but he can’t stand to see them standing in ponds loafing.So, in one sloping pasture, the Powhatan, Ark., cattle producer built two successive stair-step ponds.

Then he tapped into the pond levee and ran pipes that bring warm water in the winter to a concrete watering trough. An overflow valve is used to keep water circulating during the winter to prevent the pond from freezing.

Key Points

Arkansas producer waters cows, but keeps ponds clean.

He uses pipes, a concrete trough and electric fencing.

EQIP cost-share program helps with fencing, management.


The pastures, the ponds and the concrete-watering hole are all surrounded by solar-powered electric fences. A short piece of wood sticks up from the trough to help the errant squirrel who may fall into the water while taking a sip.

At a third pond across the road, Baltz is using PVC pipe with a single strand of electric fencing on top of the water. The PVC pipe floats on top of the water, acting as a restricted-access water cooler for the cows.

An aquatic paddock

At the limited-access point, Baltz has placed heavy rocks on filter cloth. A high-tensile electric fence covers the rest of the area around the pond. The cows wade out into the water in their own little aquatic paddock.

So, no cows are trampling down the grass on the banks of the pond. When the grass gets too high, he’ll let the cattle in for six to eight hours and let them mow it down.

“I want all of the manure to be on the pastures, not in the ponds,” Baltz says.

It’s all part of his effort to convert his herd to strip-grazing. He divides his pastures — sized at 3, 4 to 10 acres — into three or four paddocks, moving the cattle as the pasture dictates.

Using Environmental Quality Incentives Program cost-sharing funds from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, he outfitted the pastures with solar-powered electric fences and built the ponds and limited-access watering hole.

He’s also established clover in his pastures via a federally funded cost-share project that promotes prescribed grazing.

Kenny Simon, who coordinates the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture’s 300 Days of Grazing program, works with producers to inform them about stockpiling forages, managing fertility, rotational grazing and using riparian strips on the edges of waterways and ponds.

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Checking the water: Mitch Baltz used an NRCS
cost-sharing program to create a watering system for his cattle.

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Drinking allowed: Mitch Baltz (left) looks over a limited-access watering hole with Kenny Simon (center), University of Arkansas program coordinator for 300 Days of Grazing, and Bryce Baldridge, UA Extension agent.

This article published in the May, 2011 edition of MID-SOUTH FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2011.