Pasture pipeline systems are one of the most efficient, reliable and cost effective ways to deliver water to grazing livestock. If you have access to well water or clean surface water such as a pond or dugout, you can set up a simple system of pasture pipeline to pump water to paddocks as far away as 2 to 3 miles without a problem. This offers several key advantages compared to other water systems, including lower maintenance and time spent filling water troughs. Also, by having the pipeline buried in the ground you can avoid the risk and hassles of water lines getting damaged by equipment, livestock, weather and UV from the sun.
This workshop will take you through the key steps to setting up a simple pasture pipeline system, including some pretty neat “inventions” from some of the top grazers here in Alberta.
Materials and Tools
- Submersible water pump
- Water source (well, dugout or pond)
- PVC pipe (1″ or 2″ diameter)
- Hitch mounted water plow
- Float valve (large diameter, low pressure valve)
- Water trough, tank or tractor tire
Step 1 – Calculate Water Requirements
If you’re not sure how much water your animals are going to need, this guide from Ropin the Web shows how to calculate the gallons per day your herd will need, and how to calculate the necessary flow rate for your pipeline system.
Step 2 – Plow Water Lines from Source to Troughs
These water plow systems can typically hold a spool of up to 1,000 ft of 1″ PVC pipe, and it’s a super fast way to get it in the ground. How deep should you set the plow? We’ve heard recommendations between 12″ and 18″ max. Burying your pipe deeper makes it safer from a disc plow or other equipment that could accidentally damage the pipe in the future, but shallower depth allows the pipe to thaw faster in the spring. For climates similar to Alberta, aim for a 12″ depth.
Rather than building your own water plow, there’s a good chance that someone in your area already has one. For anyone in Alberta, contact Alberta Agriculture to ask about borrowing their plow at a very low cost.
Step 3 – Set Up Portable Water Troughs
Christoph Weder from Spirit River Ranch near Rycroft, Alberta demonstrates his innovative, home made portable trough system. By using some old fuel tanks and other cheap building materials he was able to construct a durable water tank that can be dragged to new locations whenever necessary.
Ropin The Web’s “Pasture Pipeline Design” guide includes some really useful information for calculating the peak water usage for yearlings and cow/calf pairs, the required water pressure for various pipe sizes and distances, and some other important design points as well.