Here are a few things you can do to protect your animals from health issues related to mud. These activities will also help you avoid slogging through a muddy mess!
- Use fences to keep animals out of creeks, wetlands, and lakes. Provide alternative water sources if needed.
- Practice good pasture management for a healthy pasture, avoiding grazing when the soil can’t support the weight of the animal. If the animal is leaving hoof impressions in the soil, the soil is too soft.
- Designate a sacrifice area where you are willing to keep your livestock during the winter and for short periods during the growing season, after pastures have been grazed down to three inches. This protects pastures from being destroyed during the rainy winter season. The vegetation in your sacrifice area will be trampled and the ground will become muddy, but this also allows your pastures to recover from grazing and promotes healthy grass and hay stands.
- Install a heavy use area that will keep your animals out of the mud. Work with your local Soil and Water Conservation District to design the heavy use area for your particular situation.
- Maintain a grassy area around the sacrifice area to filter any runoff that may occur. This buffer should be at least 25 feet wide around the sacrifice area, and should be wider if your sacrifice area is near a stream.
- Install gutters and downspouts on all buildings and divert water away from the sacrifice area or barnyard.
- Plant trees and moisture-loving shrubs outside of sacrifice areas. Trees can drink a lot of water, helping to keep the area drier and reducing surface runoff.
Planners from Clackamas County Soil and Water Conservation District are available free of charge. They can help you develop a plan to improve your pasture and design a heavy use area.
Let us help you win the battle with mud and safeguard your livestock!
Contact us at 503-210-6000 or through our website.
Adapted from Tips on Land & Water Management for Small Acreages in Oregon