Conservation practices are, simply put, "the right thing to do." Conservation practices help protect two of the most important natural resources that we have: our soil and our water. However, farmers are also concerned with their "bottom line." Fortunately, conservation practices are profitable for farmers. For example, there are many reasons to limit livestock access to streams.
Limiting livestock access to streams and providing an alternative watering system improves the quality of drinking water for animals. When given the choice between troughs and streams, cattle prefer to drink water from troughs. Farmers typically see increases in weight gain of 5-10% within the first year of changing from streamwater to troughs. If calves are selling for $0.60 per pound, this increase in productivity results in an additional $15 per calf!
Fewer Incidents of Disease and Injury
Many harmful organisms can be present in streams, including the microorganisms that cause foot rot, red nose, bovine virus diarrhea, tuberculosis, jaundice, and environmental mastitis. Fencing livestock out of streams and providing a clean water source reduces contact with these germs. Keeping cattle out of streams can also reduce vet bills by reducing the amount of leg injuries caused by walking through muddy and steep stream banks. Eliminating stream access can reduce mortality during calving, as cows are unable to calve in wet areas or near unstable stream banks.
Easy Pasture Management
Placing waterers throughout your pasture will increase forage utilization. Waterers can be placed strategically to be used with a rotational grazing system to increase productivity and efficiency.
There is the possibility of making income from nut- or fruit-bearing trees or from harvesting lumber and firewood in the fenced-out portion of the stream. Also, if you are involved in the CREP program, you will be paid an annual rental payment for allowing trees to grow in the buffer. These buffer areas are also great for wildlife, so there may be an opportunity to make money from allowing hunting. This is one way to make money grow on trees.
Fencing livestock out of the stream drastically reduces streambank erosion and allows denuded areas to heal. Your neighbors will certainly appreciate your efforts to improve the appearance of your farm.