Current Progressive Dairy digital edition
Advertisement

Best on farm fix: Low-cost watering system

Erica Louder for Progressive Dairyman Published on 18 July 2018

Max and Melissa Benedikt operate a direct-marketing farm in New Hampshire. The farm raises everything from Jersey milk cows to laying hens and plenty in between. For such a diverse operation, the adage “Necessity is the mother of invention” has become a sort of motto.

When Max Benedikt was looking for a better water trough for his cows at pasture, he took some inspiration and began inventing.

advertisement

advertisement

What was born was a low-cost watering system that could easily be moved from pasture to pasture. The system is uncomplicated, works well and is made inexpensively.

Max provided some insight on his farm and his “fix.”

Describe your farm.

BENEDIKT: We have a direct-marketing dairy with value-added production which includes products like cheese, yogurt and butter alongside the milk we sell. We have 20 Jersey milkers plus all the youngstock. We are a 100 percent grass-fed operation. Aside from the cows, we have 500 laying hens and 1 acre of intensive vegetable production. Our products are sold direct to the consumer.

Tell us about your fix.

advertisement

BENEDIKT: On our farm, we use intensive rotational grazing to maximize grass performance. This requires daily moves of the milking herd, and water has to move with the herd. For us, non-movable water troughs lead to trampling of the grass and the cows walking too much or not drinking enough water because the trough was too far.

Movable water trough

My movable troughs are on plumbed, pressurized, conditioned and tested well water. They are cheap and made with standard hardware items you can buy at any hardware store. Everything runs on 0.75-inch poly pipe at a flow rate of 5 gallons per minute. Once it’s set up, I spend close to no time watering cows. It’s important to have some garden hose by the trough because the black poly pipe is not flexible and gets destroyed by kinking.

How did you come up with the idea?

BENEDIKT: I took some inspiration from Owenlea Holsteins, a farm out of Ohio that created a similar watering system for their cows. From there, it was just developed through trial and error until I came up with a system that worked for our farm.

How does it solve a problem or present a solution for your operation?

advertisement

BENEDIKT: The cows have water anywhere for practically no money or time.

How does your “fix” work?

BENEDIKT: By having a cheap trough on pressurized well water, I can have one trough on every field. It’s easy to fix them, move them or add one. Also, there’s never a wait time for parts because I can buy all of the items locally.

If you were to make it again, what would you do differently?

Cows drinking while out on pastureBENEDIKT: I don’t have much to change to the design. I can easily fix something that isn’t working well, but I would maintain them better. They crack when left out all winter, so I have started storing them inside.

If someone wanted to try doing this themselves, what steps would they need to take?

BENEDIKT: It’s a simple process and, by just looking at the photos, you could probably copy it. The supplies to build the trough, you could probably find around your farm – a 55-gallon drum, 0.75-inch PVC pipes, hoses, couplings, teflon tape, and I prefer a Hudson float valve. It’s really easy.  end mark

PHOTO 1: The supplies to build the trough include a 55-gallon drum, 0.75-inch PVC pipes, hoses, couplings, teflon tape and a float valve.

PHOTO 2: Max Benedikt built an easy-to-move watering trough with basic hardware store items to keep his cows drinking while out on pasture. Photos provided by Max Benedikt.

Erica Louder is a freelance writer based in Idaho.

LATEST BLOG

LATEST NEWS