By Jennifer L. Peterson, Extension Program Specialist, Texas AgriLife Extension Service Larry A. Redmon, Professor and State Forage Specialist, Texas AgriLife Extension Service Mark L. McFarland, Professor and State Soil Fertility Specialist, Texas AgriLife Extension Service
Fence barrier to distribute grazing and control livestock access to waterways.
Benefits to Producer:
- Reduces herd health risks associated with livestock standing in muddy areas, such as foot disease and injuries due to unstable footing.
- Decreases herd injuries associated with cattle climbing steep and unstable stream banks.
- Improves water quality by reducing sediment, nutrient, bacterial, organic, and inorganic loading to the stream.
- Reduces stream bank destabilization and associated erosion due to trampling and overgrazing of banks.
- Allows for regeneration of riparian zone vegetation to act as a full or partial buffer.
- Greater distribution of grazing and utilization of forage.
Bacterial Removal Efficiency:
- Fencing resulted in the following bacterial reductions based on scientific research:
- E. coli: 37 to 46%
- Fecal coliform: 30 to 94%
- Fecal enterococci: 57%
- Fecal streptococci: 30 to 76%
- Total coliform: 81%
- Increased gain in beef cattle of 0.2‐0.4 lb/day.
- Prevention of leg injuries that cattle may suffer on muddy banks, and eliminates the possibility that cows will calve by the water, where newborns are more likely to suffer hypothermia and death.
- Reduced sediment and nutrient yields from streams draining pastures.
- Reduced stream turbidity by 49%.
- Increased height and vigor of riparian vegetation.
- Reduced annual sediment concentration by more than 50% and decreased the amount of soil lost by 40%.
- Reduced total phosphorus levels 76% and sediments loads by 82% as a result of stream bank fencing.
- Increased fish production by 184%.
Estimated Installation Costs:
- Permanent electric cross fence: $1.80/foot (on normal soils).
- Four‐strand barbed‐wire cross fence: $2.16/foot (on normal soils).
- Four‐strand barbed‐wire fence: $3.05/foot (on steep or rocky soils).
- Cost information obtained from the Texas NRCS Electronic Field Office Technical Guide for Zone 4; costs may vary for other zones.
Practice Life Span:
- 20 years
Available Cost‐Share Programs:
- EQIP (up to 75% cost‐share).
For More Information:
- Contact your local County Extension Agent, Soil and Water Conservation District or the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
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