> Watersheds > Streams > Cattle
Of Cattle and Streams...
Large animals, whether people,
farm animals like horses and cows, or wild animals
like deer and elk, impact stream banks when they travel
to water's edge to drink.
Under certain conditions
for example, when streamside soils are saturated,
when there are many animals, or when animals return
to the same place along the stream frequently
such animals can negatively impact water quality and
Beef cattle and dairy cows are often
mentioned as "culprits" because they are large
animals, frequently in large herds, which will find easy
access to water and stick with it. Streamside damage from
trampling, as well as water quality issues due to contamination
from waste are conspicuous.
What can we do to minimize such impacts?
Successful efforts in stream restoration have demonstrated
that there are several things we can do.
One of the keys to avoiding animal-related
damage to streambanks is to use fencing. Fences keep animals
a prescribed distance from streamsides you want to protect,
allowing streamside plants to grow untrampled and relatively
unbrowsed. Fences can direct animals to particular places
along a streambank where water access is provided (a paved
surface, for example). Fences can be moved over the course
of a year so that access points are given a period to recover.
Sometimes, by providing a water source away from the water's
edge (like a stream- or pump-fed trough), along with fencing,
farm animal damage to the streambanks can be avoided completely.