Most of the following is from my e-mail messages to Graze-L. Some is repetitive, some is likely wrong and some is contradictory because I don't agree with myself a lot of the time.
I'm told that some of this is funny. If it is, that's just accidental.
The red text is somone else's comment or maybe a question that I responded to.
General Considerations in setting up a water system.
What size pipe needs to be used? Any other ideas on how to set the system up?
More Pasture Water Equipment Considerations
What companies can I order catalogs from for plastic water piping?
In my opinion, much of my success with grazing comes from the fact that I'm a miserly, cheap, stingy scrounger.
Think cheap! You don't need a catalog for grazing water system supplies.
Are you really SURE 3/4 inch pipe is big enough to pump water 4000 feet or more?
3/4 inch is plenty big enough to go at least 4000 feet.
If you are worried about this issue, then make a complete loop around the farm and hook both ends to the main water supply so water comes from both directions at each tap. -FWO
Effect Of Water Availability On Pasture Consumption
FWO GRAZING RULE: Expect a severe drop in milk production if the cows walk more than 200 feet for water.
Unrolling 400 foot rolls of black plastic pipe.
Don't try to unroll a new 400 foot roll right along the fence into it's final location because you will probably drive yourself crazy.
Unroll it in a big open field. Don't worry about kinks, they are unavoidable. The worst that can happen is that you may end up cutting and splicing.
If you succeed in unrolling, which is doubtful, then drag it several hundred feet in each direction, and repeat this several times to get the twist out of the pipe. Finally, drag it to the installation site.
Find someone that you don't like to help with this job. -FWO
Substitute ingenuity for money
What I ended up with is about 6000' of 3/4" pipe on top of the ground, this feeds a 1000 gallon tank on a wagon running gear on which I have water troughs on each side and my mineral feeder on the back...Had 150 head drinking out of it last summer and never really got ahead of the tanks reserve.
Ingenuity can be substituted for money. There is always an inexpensive way to solve farm problems. This will work, and doesn't involve buying very expensive large diameter pipe.
We are having severe water supply problems. It seems that our pipe diameters are to small. Many times we find that the water troughs have been emptied by the heifers/steers and they have to wait until it fills up again. This puts a lot of strain on the animals.
It happens. Everyone with large groups of cattle in a paddock eventually has this problem, even with the right size of pipe and water tank. On my farm, the cause is often a break in the water line or failure of a float valve.
On my farm, I have a very large tank along one of the lanes that is always full and large enough to satiate the entire herd at once in their most desperate thirst. When we get into one of these water emergencies, we allow access to this emergency tank so the cattle can catch up on water. This gives us opportunity to fix the problem with the water system and get the tank back in the paddock full again.
Before adding the emergency tank, I spent some long afternoons after a water system failure with a fence post in my hand, standing over a water tank, trying to ration out water to a bunch of thirsty cattle. -FWO
Can the Water Get Too Hot?
We also found out that water temperature is critical. Any comments on this?
In 12 or 14 years of intensive grazing, I only had one time when the water got so hot that the cattle wouldn't drink it, even though they were desperately thirstly and were burning their tongues touching the water.
It was during the drought of 1988. The tank was 3000 feet from the barn through black plastic pipe. The water in the tank, when I got there, was over 120F or 49C and the cattle wouldn't drink. I dumped the water, stood over the tank with a fence post, and eventually the water coming out the pipe got down to 110F or 43C, and they began to drink. There were 180 head standing over me, while I was standing over the tank. As I recall, I stood over that tank for something like 6 hours before the cattle settled back to normal. Have you ever been thirsty enough yourself to drink hot water out of the cow's water tank? Don't say the day won't come. -FWO
Detecting broken water lines and tipped over water tanks
A large, easy to read, pressure gauge on a branch of the water system near my house has helped me recognize water emergencies much more quickly. It would be easy enough to rig a pressure gauge to a flashing red light.
I have an air conditioned office from which I can see the water pressure gauge. On extremely hot days, I check the pressure out the window very often, and am out into the heat like a shot out of a cannon, if the pressure drops below 20 pounds per square inch. -FWO
Were to buy Hudson Valves
I have not received any response to my request for Jobe high volume float valves. Other brands would probably also be acceptable. The high float valve appears key to getting my farmers to set up an MIG system. I have 5 people looking to move to MIG this year. Please let me know if you know of a source. Thank you.
The high volume float valve we use is the Hudson valve. Order from Modern Farm, 1825 Big Horn Avenue, Cody, WY 82414. Catalog # 6520. Price is $27.50. Phone 800/443-4934. (These things work kind of like a Sentinel vaccum regulator only backwards.)
Also you can order from: Joseph M. Hurst, 1832 Plymouth East Rd., Plymouth, OH 44865. 419/687-5801. His price is a lot less. Joe is a dairy farmer who sells and services milking equipment for the people in the Shiloh Grazing Council. He doesn't specialize in mail order or have a big inventory but will eventually get the valves to you. -FWO
Cutting 55 gal Plastic Water Tanks in Two
We have 2 55-gal plastic barrels cut in half for conversion to watering tanks. So far so good.
It seems like nobody could screw this up, but I suggested to a retired engineer, now a grass dairyman, that he cut plastic 55 gal drums in half to make water tanks.
He went home and cut two perfectly good drums in half lengthwise.
He's been having a terrible time with those four water tanks. He's been struggling with them for a year. Claims they keep rolling over and dumping the water out.
It shows that you really have to be careful about what you say, especially to literal minded engineers with no common sense. -FWO
Sealing plugs in water tanks made from 55 gal plastic drums
The screw caps or plugs on the 55 gal drums should be sealed with silicon gasket sealer (an automotive product). -FWO
Homemade portable water tank fitted with a Hudson valve
My current favorite valve is the "Hudson" valve. We screw a "street ell" into the top of the Hudson, then another "street ell", then a ten inch "nipple" and finally a "hose thread adapter" and a 50 foot garden hose. This assembly is then hung over the side of the water tank. It isn't essential to fasten this assembly onto the tank, but we drill two little holes (above the water line) and wires the nipple to the tank with light gauge wire.
00X00 <-- two street ells | 0 | 0 half | /\ | X of | Hudson valve->| ||=0 <-- wired onto tank here 55 gal | |__|| 0 drum--->| | 0 <-- 10 inch pipe nipple | | 0 | | 0 | | # <-- hose thread adapter | | s | | s 50 foot garden hose |---------------------| s s s s s s s s s s s s s
Where to buy a ClampTite Tool
Modern Farm, 1825 Big Horn Avenue, Cody, WY 82414, also sells a device called a ClampTite (cat# 6660, $19.95). This tool is used to make pipe clamps from baling wire. I couldn't maintain my water system without this thing. Regular hose clamps cost around $1 and the threads strip before I can get the clamps tight enough. There is no limit to how tight I can make the clamps with the ClampTite tool and the cost is zero. -FWO
Repairing Water Lines
Do you heat the ends of your black plastic pipe before putting fittings in? I'm told that you get a much better fit that will not come apart easily.
I suppose that on original installation, it would be possible to heat the end of the plastic pipe and get a better, tighter fit.
However, the scenario during my repair sessions is generally not conducive to heating the ends. I am usually making repairs with the system under pressure.
The normal situation is that I am on my knees in a puddle of water, holding the ends together with both hands, while also operating the ClampTite with both hands, while being sprayed from head to foot, and swearing like a madman.
By the way, the water line is most likely to pop apart the morning after a frost. My 2nd biggest cause of water line problems is from mowing over then or cutting Canada thistles under the electric fence. -FWO
This year we are going to winter our heifer herd outdoors. They will have 8-12 paddocks for loaf/feed areas to rotate through and a shed for severe weather such as wind and storms. Can you folks that deal with below freezing weather suggest how to keep their water available to them? Thanks much!
I believe there are 3 sets of winter weather conditions to consider with regard to providing water to dry cows and heifers.
Days with snow accumulation on the ground
Days the ground is frozen but there is no snow.
Days the ground is not frozen and no snow accumulation.
I have had a bit of luck in that one of my tall fescue infested pastures has a rock pile on one edge.
Getting water up high hills
What are your suggestions for moving water over several hills about 140 feet in height?
There is a grazier in Ashland County, Ohio, that has a hill so steep and high that, I kept leaning back for fear I would fall into the top of his upright silo. That hill, has got to be 300 feet above the milking parlor. I don't know which was worse: Driving up and down that hill with him in his truck, or playing tag up there with his full size Jersey bull.
Anyway, He ran a plastic pipe straight up the hill, from near the milk house to a 2000 gallon tank sitting in an old dump truck on top of the hill. He has an old "piston" pump that he salvaged from his hired man's basement. He runs a water hose from the milk house out to the piston pump. They pump water up the hill every day for a few hours. There is a check valve on the uphill side of the piston pump. The piston pump is bolted to a piece of plywood and is sitting beside his milk house.
I've seen a lot of these old piston pumps in basements of old farm houses. His looked at least 50 years old. The advantage of a piston pump in this application is: when the piston travels through it's stroke, the water has got to go up the hill. It doesn't matter how high the hill is to a piston pump, but you might have to change the pulley size on the pump or motor. A regular pump might not be able to overcome the head.
Up and down the hill, he has taps for water tanks. He also has addition gravity flow feed lines radiating out from the tank down the far side of the hill.
This system works very well and since this guy is cheaper than I am, I know for certain that it couldn't have cost more than a few hundred dollars. -FWO
A Pasture Mist Generator - Esstential Part of the Water System
Last summer we were visiting dairy farms in southern Ohio where the temperature was 106F or 41.1C with 100% humidity. We drove by at least six dairy farms with dead cows pulled out in front of the barn. Presumably, a few farmers would have had the common sense to pull them out behind the barn, so there were probably many more.
Back at Owenlea Farm, on the same day, son Blake was in charge of our herd. He had 104F that day but managed to keep our cows fairly cool. Our cows were outside all day with no shade but he was able to keep them moist and there was some breeze. The crude drawing below may give you some idea of how our mist generator operates. With the help of the breeze, we were able to mist an area about 30 feet X 200 feet.
...... ................ ...... ..... .......... height at nozzle ....... .. .. ...... \\ 12-14 feet .................. \\ .... ..mist... ... \\ .. .............. \\ .......... .. .. ..... \\ 10 foot plastic ........................ \\ pipe \\ \\ <----------------------- \\ Up to 200 foot drift \\ in a light breeze. //\\ \\ // \\ \\ // \ \\ // \\ \\ // \\ \\ //==========\\ S // 6 foot \\ S water // step \\ S hose // ladder \\ S S S S S S S S S
Instructions to Build and Operate a Mist Generator
Water Tank Photos
Some of these are kinda ugly. But, the buggers with the really ugly water tanks wouldn't let me take their pictures. I guess I shouldn't have asked them to pose with their tank. You know the type: Cow poop in the tank, an inch of moss growing in the tank ,and those that had been running over for 2 weeks without being moved. -FWO
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