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Water Quality and Economic Benefits of Livestock Exclusion from Streams: Experiences from Virginia

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Watershed ManWatershed Management to Meet Water Quality Standards and TMDLS (Total Maximum Daily Load) Proceedings of the 10-14 March 2007, San Antonio, Texas  701P0207.(doi:10.13031/2013.22495)
Authors:   Rebecca W Zeckoski, Brian L Benham, Charles Lunsford
Keywords:   Livestock stream exclusion, water quality, economic benefits, producer experience

Producers across Virginia are voluntarily participating in stream exclusion practices that reduce the time livestock spend in streams. Evidence from the literature suggests that stream exclusion practices can be both environmentally and economically beneficial to the producer. Studies have shown that the health and productivity of livestock increase with stream exclusion. The goal of this project was to collect information from producers across Virginia who have implemented stream exclusion practices to determine what factors affect the decision to implement stream exclusion practices and what costs and benefits producers associate with stream exclusion. The project accomplished these goals through interviews with 20 producers from varied regions of Virginia. Through these interviews, we found that producers with stream exclusion practices commonly experienced an increase in cattle weight gain (beef operations) or milk production (dairy operations) and decrease in disease. Common factors positively influencing the decision to install a stream exclusion practice include information provided by local agency personnel, a desire to take advantage of off-stream waterers and interior fencing that could be installed as part of a stream exclusion cost-share project, and a concern for the environment. A major complaint of the producers was the noxious vegetative growth in the fenced-off riparian area; they hypothesized this was a main reason that many producers did not participate in stream exclusion incentive programs. Fence maintenance required in riparian areas was also a common complaint. Overall, the interviewed producers were happy with the systems they had implemented and recommended stream exclusion to their peers.

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