Cattle and water quality responses to shade and alternative water sources in grazed pastures in Georgia, USA
Byers, Harris Lowell
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Shade and alternative water sources may affect cattle behavior and stream quality in cattle-grazed pastures. GPS collars were used to monitor cattle behavior in three pastures with unfenced streams as a function of shade and trough availability. Concurrently, water samples were taken during base flow and storm events to monitor changes in stream water quality. Daily time spent by cattle in riparian areas varied between 5% and 10% during warm months and was decreased by the availability of abundant non-riparian shade and water troughs. The stream draining the pasture with the most non-riparian shade had the smallest loads of DRP, TP, TSS, and E. coli. These contaminant loads were decreased when water troughs were available. The results of this study indicate that possible BMPs to reduce contamination from pastures would be to build shade and install a water trough away from the stream.