We’re here today on the Eden Shale Farm in
Owen County, KY that’s controlled by the Kentucky Beef Network. We’re here today to look at how they’ve installed waterers on their farm and to explore some
key concepts producers need to know. So on this particular waterer, this is like
an 8 ft. – 8 ft. 6 in. tire waterer and we cut out the inner liner, basically the
sidewall of it, and removed it. You want to keep some of that sidewall liner.
The minimum is you want to keep at least 3 inches for the cow to have a lip to go over. The water level height needs to be like 2 to 4 inches below the surface
height right here so you don’t have water overflowing but you also don’t
have splashing. This dimension right here is critical:
from the ground to the top of this. What does it need to be? Well it depends on what you’re watering.
If you’re watering cattle. Just cattle. Just cows. It can be 36 inches off the ground. But if you want calves to be able to reach it, it can’t be any more than 20.
So that’s why this one set it 20. We got a concrete pad going out around this. This is actually an octagon shape and this goes out 8 or 9 feet depending on where
you’re measuring from the edge of the waterer. The whole point of that is is we want the entire cow on this concrete to get a drink.
We want it nice and flat because her job in this point is to get a drink of
water and you want it to be ergonomically efficient for her to do that. If this is being used in the winter time,
we definitely want concrete. If this is just a summer time waterer, you’re just running stockers from May to October,
and this is not going to get any winter time use. You can probably negate the concrete,
but again it depends on what kind of soils this is going into. If it’s got a high clay content which we have then soil and water is basically going to
create mud. This waterer has got a drain on it. Which we just used so we could drain
this thing so we could work on it. But the drain to drain this thing, you don’t
want it discharging like right here. Because again soil and water is going to
make mud. What we do is we run this drain
down to the bottom of the hill. We discharge it down into the trees
and that way we don’t have a mud problem. We don’t have a gully erosion problem.
We’re not losing our soils. This particular waterer’s source right here,
this nice clean water is actually rainwater that we’re
collecting off the barn that’s behind us. That roof water is stored in these
large tanks. We’re actually collecting 12,000 gallons and we’re collecting
12,000 gallons because we need 12,000 gallons to water the animals
for the period of time that we have them in this particular area. Which is normally around seven to ten days. So you take the herd numbers, what their water consumption rate is. And there again the water consumption rate. Normally it’s a gallon per hundred pounds
is what they would normally drink. So you got a 1,500 pound cow she’s going
to drink 15 gallons in a day. But if it’s really hot summer time conditions. It’s 95 degrees, been 95 for four days,
they”ll probably drink twice that amount at 30 gallons. So you got to have the right amount
of water available to them. We’re also running what we call a
hybrid system in that we’re utilizing this rainwater that we’re collecting off
the roof of the barn, but we also have a valve over here where we can turn this
over and switch it over to city water in an instant. Which is really good and in
order to do that what you really should have is two separate dedicated lines. One line coming to this waterer to serve city water. One line coming off the
harvested water that goes in the tank. So you would have basically two different floats.
You put the floats in this containment right here so the cattle
can’t reach it. You put a containment around the waterer
so the cows can’t get in and foul the water. So those are some of the things you do. You also should have backflow preventers or air gaps to basically prevent this cow spit
essentially from going back into the city water supply if the waterer was to
lose pressure or something like that. Youu’re not sucking that water back into
the city water supply and distributing it to houses and whatnot.
So backflow preventers and air gaps are critical. Another thing to think about is, is again
we’re talking about waterers here. So you have some producers that go,
“I need waterer out in this field so I can water cattle.” Well in this particular situation if we back up and we show you the wide shot of this. I’ve got one, two, three different
gates going to three different areas. So this one waterer is serving multiple areas. I also have a lane or what we call a
trailway, alleyway type of thing and this is outfitted with geotextile fabric and rock. So again we don’t produce mud but I’ve got enough room in here to basically put in mineral diets. I can put in portable bunkers to feed concentrated diets. We can use this as a catch pen. So putting this in the
right location is also key as far as how it can be mutually beneficial to
other things. One of the things we got going on with this waterer that’s behind us is it’s got a leak. It’s got a faulty valve and that’s because of
the plumbing pipe that we used. So when putting in a waterer you can’t just use… we should have used like maybe somebody said you should have used
galvanized pipe. But you can’t use galvanized pipe
in these particular soils So that’s something else you have to look at
when you install one of these waterers, is what kind of soils do we have as far as what kind of materials are we
going to use. So instead of using galvanized pipe, we used this flexible material called
Copper Tubing Substitute, “CTS”. And it’s flexible and what happens
is when that pipe moves then the float basically moves with it and so we
can’t get the water to shut off. So we got a constant leak.
We should have plumbed in rigid plumbing. So the whole thing is you got to get or
have good plumbing skills to install these things so that you don’t
have trouble with them down the road. So this is a smaller tire waterer. This is
a 6-foot, compared to the 8-and-a-half foot’s that we like to use. But on the 8-and-a-half’s we usually
split them between the fence. This one is just all by itself, which is great. So cattle can have access all the way around this. This waterer is set up as a rotational grazing hub. What we’ve got is a semi-compound containment area and again we got one, two, three, four, five different gates going out to five different pastures. So this one waterer serves five pastures
and facilitates rotational grazing. Another good point about this is it’s got a minimal amount of concrete around it. It’s got some grooves in it for cattle traffic,
which is great. But also, you can see it’s almost seamless with the rock interface that’s next to it and this would be geotextile fabric and rock. This is exactly what you want.
You want that tire or this waterer recessed down into the ground so
the cattle are on their normal surface. Then they walk onto this without
stepping up or stepping down. That’s how you want this.
Why do you want it that way? Well if you take a 1500-pound cow that’s standing on four feet and then she has to step down off this concrete down to a a soil surface, a
grass surface, a rock surface, she’s transferring all that weight on
the one foot. Therefore you will have a depression all the way around this concrete if it’s not the same level with the gravel. Which is what you want.
So that’s another good point about this. Again, with a large containment area like
this that facilitates rotational grazing but we can also use this as basically a
hub to hold cattle, to capture them, to treat them if we wanted to, to load them
up on a gooseneck right there and take them out. But you can amateurize out this waterer
over five different pastures. As opposed to having one waterer in each
of the five pastures now. There’s also a draw down at the bottom. It’s got a creek in it they could drink out of that. But by providing this on the summit position, great location, they’ll rather come up here and get this city water to drink
rather than drink out of those other sources down the bottom of
the hill. This area is our spring development. What we did was harness this spring by isolating it. You put in a wall, essentially an impermeable wall. You put a conduit in that so basically you dammed up that water and then that water overflows, goes through the conduit, and
goes into this junction box. So we recessed this down into the ground. The junction box has got a feeding
line that goes out to that tire waterer that split between those two fences. It also has an overflow that’s actually a perforated pipe or corrugated pipe that actually goes down into the trees and discharges that.
So if we get too much water in the spring, in the junction box, more than
what the tire can handle the overflow of that goes down to the draw. And in installing this, there was a couple things we wanted to do. Because what’s going on in this field
that’s back behind me over here on this side, is this is a very long field. What we had was cattle paths that
were going back to the waterer. There were lots of them and
they were running down the hill slope. There were multiple ones that ran along
the contour of the slopes. We call it “cow-touring” which is a little bit of a joke,
but it’s cattle paths. Those are compacted areas that
aren’t going to grow grass. So in order to alleviate that or try to remove that,
what we did was install or develop this spring so we could put in that waterer
over there. Because the rule is, is you do not want cattle in the state of Kentucky
walking over 600 feet to get to a water source. If they have to walk over 600
feet and the field’ss bigger than that then they’re not going to be utilizing the
forages away from that water source. You want water within that 600 feet
boundary rule. So by putting in and developing this spring we’ve basically put in a tire waterer that’s over there and it’s split between two different pastures. Again we don’t like to put in one waterer for one pasture. We have two-ways, three-ways, four-ways, five-ways. We almost put one in over there that’s a seven. But we split it between two pastures. Now we could probably cut down on that “cow-touring”
because now we have a water source on this end of the field for them to utilize. So the tire is just sitting on geotextile fabric and rock. There’s no concrete around it. We just have concrete in the basin just to make
it impermeable so it holds water. It’s spring-fed. So basically the water
goes in and we have a discharge valve or a pipe that basically takes the
overflow and runs it down to the draw. So it’s a continuous flow and that means
you also don’t have to worry about it freezing in the winter time which is great. This tire right here is using shade balls.
So these are black balls that are filled with air but they’re also weighted.
They got a liquid in them to weight them so they sit down in the water.
You can kind of see where the water line is. We use them to basically protect
the surface of the water, which cuts down on algae growth or Cladophora is one of
the varieties. You can put those in there and the cows just move them out of the way. They get a drink and they go on. We thought these balls would help us out in the winter time as far as not
keeping the tire from freezing. But they just got in the way and actually if the tire did kind of freeze over a little bit, it
just made it more difficult to bust the ice. But this waterer doesn’t have any concrete around.
It’s just geotextile fabric and rock. We got the containment around it to keep them out of it. We can subdivide this.
The whole idea was we’re going to subdivide this pasture to allow the animals have access
to each side to facilitate rotational grazing. The water for this particular
waterer comes from two different sources. It’s a hybrid system. It could run off of
city water, but we prefer to run it off of harvested water which is
rainwater that comes off the roof of the barn. So we capture that water off the
roof using gutters and downspouts. That discharges into cisterns and then we
pump the water in the cistern. We’re using a solar panel and a low voltage
24-volt pump to pump into this tank that we put in the corn crib. So we’re utilizing the corn crab
that we weren’t utilizing before. Pushed the tank in there and cover it
with shade cloth to cut down on the heat load that would be on the water. Then we use it basically as a water tower to gravity feed to a tire waterer that’s on the other side
for those two paddocks over there. And to gravity feed into this waterer right here. One of the things we like to do here
at Eden Shale is take advantage of what we call free energy, free work.
One of those would be solar energy and gravity. So those are things we take advantage of because
we’re trying to make our drudgery less. It’s something for producers to think
about as far as how this could line up with their whole
operation to make it more efficient.