Thinking About Drinking

When I was in college, I remember my professor in Principles of Ruminant Nutrition asking, "what is the most important nutrient?"  The answers from the class were predictable: "calcium," "phosphorus," "potassium," "sodium!".  He just smiled and then eventually turned on the projector showing a picture of beautiful, clean water.  The point was simple:  even though we don't think about it as a nutrient, water is always extremely important and is, in fact, a nutrient.

Here in the Big Horn Basin, we know this to be true.  We live in an area where having enough water is always at the forefront of our minds.  On our mountain pasture we are blessed to have some beautiful springs for the cows to drink from.  However, they do not flow tremendous amounts of water so we must be careful to manage them the best we can.  One of the better springs has been run from where it comes out of the hill through a steel pipe to a tank for as long as I can remember.  We have talked about moving the tank further away from the fence with our neighbors for years.  Their cows see the tank of water and try to push through the fence and come in to be with our cows.  Now the tank has holes and we took it as our chance to move it.

 The old set up

The old set up

The first step was to lay a pipe to the new tank site.  A "T" was placed in the pipeline the the tank set on top of the T.  At the end of the pipe is a valve.  When shut, the water backs up into the tank.  When it is open, the water will bypass the tank and flow into a reservoir.  Any overflow from the tank also flows into the reservoir.  We then set a spring box with gravel on the top side to collect the spring water which feeds into the new pipeline.  A lid will be put over the spring box to keep animals and dirt from getting in.

 The bypass valve with a rock placed above to protect it.

The bypass valve with a rock placed above to protect it.

 The spring box made from reused pvc pipe with gravel to let the water flow in.

The spring box made from reused pvc pipe with gravel to let the water flow in.

 My father backfilling after the pipe is laid.

My father backfilling after the pipe is laid.

After all this, it is time to cover up the pipeline, place rocks around the tank to prevent hoof action from digging it too deep, and put dirt around the spring box.  This set up should be a large improvement over the old one.  It collects more water, keeps it cleaner, and moves the tank farther from the fence line.  I'm excited about it and I think the cows were excited to have a tank of cool, clear spring water that actually held the water!

by Brandon Greet

Brandon Greet2 Comments