Marble Hill, Mo., farmer installs alternative to ponds to water cattle

Thursday, August 2, 2012
Cattle on Lester Barks’ farm near Marble Hill drink from a watering system Barks put in to help counteract drought. (Submitted photos)

MARBLE HILL, Mo, -- Some 1.25-inch pipe and a few old tractor tires have kept cattle on Lester and Ima Jo Barks' farm from being thirsty.

With farm ponds and creeks drying up, Lester Barks needed a way to get water to his cattle more easily than trucking in tanks of water. So, working in conjunction with the local USDA farm service office, he built his cattle a water system.

The Barkses are fortunate to have a deep well on their property, that was dug when prospectors were looking for minerals in the 1980s, Lester Barks said. The prospectors found nothing, and could have abandoned the well.

"They told me that if I'd pay for the materials, they would leave the well," Lester Barks said.

Lester Barks and his son Larry dug trenches and laid a half-mile of water lines from the well to three locations on the property, called pads. Lester Barks got some used tractor tires and sunk them into holes up to about half the width of the tires. They used six bags of ready-mix concrete to line the pads.

"Not a one of them has leaked," Lester Barks said.

A high-speed valve automatically fills the pads when the water level goes down more than two inches, Barks said.

Each pad can hold up to 250 gallons of water. The pads are situated between two fields so the Barkses can use intensive grazing for their cattle. The cattle will graze in a field on one side of a fence for three days, then will cross the fence and graze there for three days. The water pads are directly under the fence so the cattle can graze from both sides of the fence.

"With the dry summer, this has been a necessity," Lester Barks said.

Pertinent address:

Marble Hill, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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