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Unchecked livestock access to watercourses can give rise to issues in terms of herd health and biosecurity, plus loss of land through erosion and significant poaching leading to a breach of regulations and financial penalties.

Although piped mains or borehole water is the first choice as drinking water for livestock, there are some grazing areas too remote from the steading where piping water isn’t an option.

Funded by the Scottish Government, and with support from SEPA, SAC Consulting worked with three farmers to install and trial a range of different alternative watering systems to provide drinking water for livestock at remote sites.

Alternative Watering: Hear from other farmers

Alternative watering: A farmer's journey

Robert Ramsay a farmer and beef consultant with SAC consulting installed a solar alternative watering system on his farm in 2020. Robert had worked closely with Farming and Water Scotland through his work as a consultant and had seen the benefits that it can bring to a farming system. The new system has allowed him to remove livestock from the burn, giving him piece of mind when it comes to water quality, while also increasing the potential for improved grazing on the farm.

Alternative watering, that are the options?

Meeting looking at alternative watering systems and raising awareness of the Ythan priority catchment

Cogarth Alternative Watering Meeting

Alternative watering meeting in Dumfries looking at the capabilities of the papa pump and solar pumps

Alternative Watering Podcast: episode 1 - Papa pump

Agricultural consultant Donald Dunbar visits Paul Adams, who farms at Monashee Farm in the Scottish Borders.  About four years ago Paul installed a Papa pump as part of an alternative watering project for his livestock.  Hear directly from Paul about the installation process and how the Papa pump has performed in his system.

Alternative Watering Podcast: episode 2 - Solar and pasture pumps

John Prentice a livestock farmer in the Scottish Border's chats to agricultural consultant Donald Dunbar about his alternative watering systems.  John installed both a solar-powered pump and a cluster of pasture pumps a number of years ago.  Farming in a diffuse pollution priority catchment, John wanted to ensure that he was able to provide livestock drinking facilities beyond the minimum 5m from a watercourse to prevent livestock poaching.  He's found both systems beneficial and has a few hints and tips for others who might be installing similar systems.

Alternative Watering Podcast: episode 3 -

In this final episode of our Alternative Watering series, we hear from agricultural consultant Donald Dunbar and farmer John Anderson. John explains that cattle had previously been drinking from water from springs and ditches and burns. This caused poaching and health problems e.g. fluke and lungworm. Having limited alternative watering options available for the farm animals, John decided to install a traditional RAM pump. The pump is lifting the water up 105 m and pumping it a distance of over a kilometre.