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Livestock Water Systems

Livestock Water Systems

By Martin Gugelman, Engineering Technician (Civil)
Natural Resources Conservation Service
Scott City, Kansas

The past several years have proven to be very trying for livestock producers in most of Kansas. With adequate grass in short supply, many producers are looking for ways to stretch the grass they do have.

One obvious way to attain the best use of the grass is good grazing distribution. This can be done in several ways; a key component is water distribution. Water distribution is simply stated as getting water from where you have it now to where you need it and can be quite effective in times of drought as well as adequate moisture.

Several methods are available to distribute water including ponds, spring developments, wells, pipelines, and tanks.

  • Ponds will work well in wet years but have little or no water during dry years and can be hard to seal in some soil types.
  • Spring developments are a good alternative provided you have a spring in your pasture, and it is located in the right place for the grazing system.
  • Wells are another good alternative for a main source of water, but if multiple locations are needed, they may not be cost effective.
  • Pipelines are generally used in combination with a well or spring development and can greatly increase the effectiveness and versatility of them.
  • Tanks can come in many shapes and sizes or can be made from several different materials but are simply a container to store the water when you get it where you need it.

After figuring out the best system to get water where you need it to improve your distribution, you will want to answer a few questions.

  • How reliable of a water source do I need?
  • What is the best location for my water supply to fit the grazing system and physical location to minimize maintenance?
  • How much water do I need at each location, and how many animals will drink there?
  • How fast does the water need to get there to keep a constant supply?
  • How much water do I need in reserve storage to allow time to address any problems that arise?
  • If using a pipeline, what is the best route to install it considering ease of installation and possible maintenance?
  • What materials do I need?
  • Are there any programs to help with this?

This all sounds like a lot to figure out; however, your local Natural Resources Conservation Service office staff can assist you with the answers to all of these questions and more.

To learn more about natural resources conservation, please contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service office or conservation district office located at your local county U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Service Center (listed in the telephone book under United States Government or on the internet at More information is also available on the Kansas Web site at Follow us on Twitter @NRCS_Kansas. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.