Pasture Pipelines

 Knowledge Nuggets | Fact Sheets
Knowledge Nuggets
  • As pastures become more intensively managed, producers are piping water directly to paddocks. These pipelines are typically small diameter polyethylene pipes that are either buried about 12 inches below ground or placed above ground along fencelines.
  • Pasture pipelines are only used in the summer and ought to be drained or blown out with an air compressor in the fall. When using above ground lines, strategic breaks in the lines connected with quick couplers, allow the operator to use gravity when draining the lines in the fall.
  • Pasture pipelines have the distinct advantage of being able to deliver water to strategic sites on the pasture ensuring that little manure is transferred from the place that the plants were grazed.
  • Pipelines are a cost effective alternative when pressure systems already exist. Typically a pipeline is hooked into an existing stock waterer and the water is transferred to the outer reaches of a pasture.
  • When providing water in paddocks of 20 acres or less, animals tend not to herd to water. Rather, animals come to drink individually, as they are thirsty. This reduces congestion around the water tank, eliminates trailing and allows for a smaller watering system as compared to where animals need to travel to water.
  • By using lightweight tanks, operators can move the tanks to fresh paddocks with the animals. By changing the location of the tanks, the pasture around the tanks can grow back without permanent damage to the stand.
  • Aluminum quick couplers and ball valves work well in connecting sections of pipeline within a pasture layout. Always make connections so that the male ends flow water into the female ends to help keep the lines organized. Always use the same manufacturer's fittings to make maintenance and modifications easier.
  • Consider the number of livestock and the expected peak water consumption per animal when designing your pipeline system.
  • To fulfill water requirements the system must either be able to store water for peak use times in a large enough water tank or provide enough flow into the tank when the animals are drinking.
  • Pump and well capacity, distance to the farthest watering point, vertical lift from the pressure tank to the watering point, operating pressure at the pressure tank, and friction loss in the pipeline and float valve will all affect the capacity to deliver water during the peak times.
  • Be sure to consider future expansion of the water system for more cattle or longer pipelines when planning the initial layout.
  • Surface pipelines are prone to damage by livestock, rodents and equipment crossing.
Fact Sheets

Pasture Pipeline Design

Pipelines for Watering Range Livestock - available in PDF format only
  For more information about the content of this document, contact Grant Lastiwka.
This information published to the web on October 30, 2003.
Last Reviewed/Revised on January 18, 2017.

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