Phone: (204) 747-2530 :: 102 Broadway Street S, Deloraine, Manitoba

MRAC Project

Protecting the riparian area of creeks and streams in Manitoba to improve water quality is a key focus for many Conservation Districts. Several government and non government programs are aimed at this topic as well. Manitoba Conservation Districts Association (MCDA) received funding to study two of the more popular tools thought to be effective in addressing the areas of concern. The study assesses two BMP’s (Beneficial Management Practices): Grassed Buffer Strips adjacent to cultivated cropland and Off –Stream Watering Systems for beef cattle with the help of several Conservation Districts in the province. Cattle producers face constant changes to their industry, through legislation, regulation or new management information. Implementation of these changes must be weighed against the never ending effort to make it economically and environmentally sustainable. The Off -Stream Watering Study, organized as one of two studies undertaken by Manitoba Conservation Districts Association, has completed the field portion for this  two year study.  The study expects to provide credible evidence on whether you can reduce the amount of time cattle spend in and around the water with the use of off-stream watering systems. The study is funded by Manitoba Rural Adaptation Council, Manitoba Water Stewardship Fund, PFRA (formally known as) and Sustainable Development Innovation Fund. Two pastures in Southwest Manitoba with creeks meandering through the centers were selected and divided into three paddocks of similar size and make up.  Approximately 25 cow calf (cc) pairs in each paddock were studied using GPS Collars and visual monitoring.  In each location, Paddock 1 provided a water system using water out of the same stream and unlimited access to the stream; Paddock 2 provided the same type of water system but the access to the stream was limited by natural barriers (piled deadfall from nearby); Paddock 3 gave cattle unlimited access to the stream as the only water source. In order to study the groups in various weather conditions the monitoring was rotated from one location to the other every two weeks.  As well as cattle behaviour and movement, some of the other data collected was: body weight, body condition scoring, riparian health, forage availability, water quality and temperature, and weather.  In hindsight we should have measured stress levels, not of the animals but of the volunteers and producers.  A big thank you to all those involved in the field work for your dedication; you put in some tough hours.

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