I think that everyone can agree that this year’s weather is like nothing we have ever seen before! We have seen mild summers, mild winters, and continuous rain for months at a time. The common question has been arising a lot lately… “what are we going to do with all this water!?” That is a very good question, and an even better one is, what are we going to do when it stops raining (if that ever happens)?
In this article I hope to give some suggestions and/or ideas to everyone to remove excess water, and to also manage what water we do have to make it last, just in case there is a drought in our future.
My background is in beef cattle, so I am going to talk about that aspect of water management first. When it comes to excess, or standing water, there can be some short- and long-term negative effects on your animals. The number one thing that comes to mind with standing water is mosquitoes. Mosquitoes, along with ticks, flies, and horse flies are the prime carrier hosts for the disease called Anaplasmosis, also known as Anaplas. Anaplasmosis is an infectious disease in cattle that destroys the red blood cells in the body. Texas A&M University has written a publication explaining the disease in its entirety online. The thing that can get ranchers in trouble with Anaplasmosis is that the infected cattle do not show signs of being infected until weeks or months after contracting the disease. By this time, multiple head in the herd may be infected, but the rancher may not ever know.
Some steps that a producer can take in order to help prevent their herd from becoming infected are using heavy fly and pest control on your livestock. Pour on fly, lice, and tick control, fly tags, and rubs are some ways to help keep flies and pests off your cattle externally. For internal control, a medicated mineral supplement containing Oxytetracycline, (which will require a prescription from your local veterinarian), will help with the treatment of already infected cattle, plus help with the prevention of contracting the disease. Fly control will not only help with the prevention of the disease, but will also keep your cattle more comfortable, which in turn, will make them more profitable for the producer!Another thing that animal owners can do in order to help prevent your place from becoming a mosquito breeding farm is to drain and wash out water troughs weekly if not daily. This will do two things: one, prevent mosquito larvae from hatching out, and two, give your animals fresh, clean water to drink during the hot summer months. Hay producers need to be vigilant about watching for standing water in their hay traps this summer! If where you store your hay has a low spot in it, you might consider draining the standing water, then hauling in extra dirt or rock in order to build that spot up to prevent it from filling back up. Round or square hay sitting in water can lead to mold, or worse, fire, in your hay supply.
For my urban folks, there are several things that you can do in order to cut down on the mosquitoes, mold, fungus, or possible disease in your lawns. Draining excess water out of your lawns may be a pain to do but will be beneficial in the long run! After you drain the water, you can haul in sand to build the spot up so that it doesn’t fill back up the next time it rains, and you won’t have to worry about it ever again! Empty bird baths that may be around your yard. However, if you have birds that visit the bird bath frequently, drain the old water out of the birdbath, refill it with fresh water, and repeat every three to four days. This will cut down on the mosquito larvae. Change out water for pets weekly or if possible, daily, to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes in water bowls. If you are going to have a get-together outside, please wear mosquito repellent, or use citronella candles!
Ok, now that we have talked about how to deal with excess water, what are we going to do if it stops raining one of these days?? Well, these tips are going to be pretty much universal for both rural and urban residents. Luckily for my livestock producers, I don’t think our ponds are going to go dry this summer! However, if possible, make sure that your cattle have access to more than one source of water in their pastures. This will alleviate stress and reliance on just that one little pond in the middle of the pasture! Let the cattle have access to multiple ponds if you can, a creek, or even a water trough, that you may fill up for them every now and then, just to keep them coming to it. For homeowners, lets try to refrain from watering our lawns for a little while. The ground is going to have so much moisture in it from all this rain we have been getting, so there shouldn’t be any need to water. This will help conserve water that is usually being used this time of year. Plus, I’m sure everyone is wanting a break from mowing already!!