Do you have a livestock watering tank or trough on your farm? Many watering facilities have not been designed with wildlife in mind. Although they are used to provide water to livestock, they can double as vital water sources for bats, birds and other wildlife. Considering the needs of wildlife in the installation of livestock water facilities is not only the right thing to do, but it will result in cleaner water for livestock and less maintenance for the producer. You can maximize the quality of water for your livestock and provide a safe water source for wildlife by making a few easy changes.
Many birds and bats need room to fly in to scoop water from the watering facility. Remove any obstructions, such as boards and wires located above the water to give them the space they need. If they are knocked into the water and there is no way to crawl out, they will drown, impairing the drinking water for the livestock. This is true of any wildlife, such as squirrels, that may find their way into the tank. This issue can be solved by installing an escape ramp.
Escape ramps should start at the inside wall and reach all the way to the bottom. They should be sloped no steeper than 45 degrees and be made of a long lasting material, such as coated metal grating. It is important that they are secured firmly and are placed to cause minimal disturbance to livestock. To provide more effective escape opportunity, the ramp should be placed so animals swimming the along the edges of the tank can come in contact with the ramp. If it does not, animals may swim under the ramp and ultimately perish.
The Shiawassee Conservation District works with livestock producers to develop conservation plans to protect our natural resources including soil, water, air, plants, and animals. Contact our office to get started on your personalized plan!
Pictured are two examples of watering tank escape ramps. Photo by U.S. Department of Agriculture