2015 - Volume #39, Issue #1, Page #25[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Simple System Keeps Pastured Beef Watered
“Our overriding goal is to produce the most tender, juicy, nutrient dense steak every time,” says Nortunen. “To achieve this goal, we feel we need the absolute best genetics available, and we need to grow the best quality forage possible.
“Every day our cattle get moved to fresh paddocks, sometimes as often as 4 to 5 times a day,” he says. “They need fresh water in every paddock. Our cattle are always close to a water tank.”
Nortunen described his watering system in a recent issue of On Pasture, the online grazing management newsletter (www.onpasture.com). His system is based on 1-in. pipe with risers and quick connects every 150 ft.
He has a 3,000-ft. line that runs down the center of an 80-acre pasture and a line of about 4,000 ft. through a ravine and then into a 60-acre pasture. Each pasture is broken up into smaller 10 to 12-acre paddocks for mob grazing with portable water troughs moved to each new paddock with the cattle.
If he were designing his system today, Nortunen would do it differently. “I would go with larger pipe, at least 1 1/4-in., and also heavier pipe,” he says. “Some of mine is 100 psi, and every year we get breaks where water collects and freezes. I have some 160 psi, high-density polyethylene, and it never breaks, even if it freezes solid.”
Water troughs are made from old tires. “I cut away the sidewall on one side,” says Nortunen. “I measured the circumference of the remaining bead and had a local steel shop cut out a piece of steel to fit. I laid the steel on the bead of the tire and drilled holes through and bolted the rubber to the steel. Then I laid a bead of silicon around the perimeter where the steel meets the rubber.”
Nortunen added input and drain pipes to each water trough. He used a 3/4-in. drill bit to make holes for 3/4-in. pipe. He notes that the pipes fit so snug, he had to pound them in, and they have never leaked since.
A 50-ft. garden hose with quick-connect ends carries water from the pipe riser to the tank. A float and valve at the end of the input pipe maintain the water level. Two U-bolts welded to the steel plates hold the valve in place and protect it from the cattle.
“When I move cattle to the next paddock, I disconnect the hose and open the drain valve,” says Nortunen. “When it is empty, I hook a chain on the tire and drag it to the riser in the next paddock, hook up the hose and refill the trough.
“If redoing it, I also would go with 1 3/4-in. drain pipes for a faster flow,” he says. “Waiting for the tire to empty slows down the paddock change.”
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, David Nortunen, 62467 Nortunen Rd., Marengo, Wis. 54855 (ph 715 278-3831; email@example.com; www.hiddenvuefarm.com).
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