With every storm that blows through, we hope it brings precipitation to fill the soil profile AND the ponds. But no…not yet. Maybe it is like the old adage of “a watched pot never boils”. Maybe we should try to focus our attention on the opportunities this drought brings?
Regarding livestock watering, there are a number of things we can do now to better prepare for future droughts. All require time and effort, but if they can relieve stress from our lives and benefit our livestock, isn’t that time and effort well spent?
Let’s take a few moments to away from your daily grind and focus on approaches that can provide water to new areas or improve your existing watering situation.
One of the easiest options is to extend water pipelines to your pasture or feeding area. A pipeline typically delivers water from pump systems on the ranch or from a public water system like rural water and sometimes a line from a pond. The monthly cost of the electricity to pump water is relatively cheap, even compared to the cost of pond construction and maintenance. Although producers do not like to think about the monthly cost of the water bills, rural water can be a wise, economical choice.
Pipelines often cost about $2.00+ per linear foot to get the pipe installed ($1.00 for the pipe and $1.00 for the trench and installation). If the system is being installed for occasional or emergency use only, producers may want to install a freeze proof hydrant at the site so when it is shut off, there is no need to winterize. The stock tank(s) can be installed temporarily during the time of need and then removed.
Many producers are investigating old well and/or windmill sites. Although these sites may not produce the water that they did in the past, they are worth considering. Many windmill well sites are no longer in use, but, the reason may be the windmill failing mechanically and nothing more. In those cases, the solar pump systems offer a real possibility. Most solar pumps for these uses are submersible and require at least 3 to 5 inch casing openings.
In order to economically justify a solar pump system, the site needs to be over 1/4 mile away from an electric power source. The basic solar pump system will cost $2,500 to $3,500. If the water is deeper than 200 feet, the cost of additional solar panels to meet the needs for increased pumping lift increase as well. Recently, some producers have mounted their solar pump system on a trailer to make it easier to move from pasture to pasture.