Livestock Management

Materials and Tools needed varies by project

Successful livestock management near streams aims to find a balance between raising livestock and maintaining a healthy natural riparian corridor. Lasting benefits of livestock management can include:

• Maintained water quality
• Streambank stability
• Healthy riparian vegetation and ecosystems

Michigan State University’s Acceptable Practices for Managing Livestock Along Lakes, Streams & Wetlands manual

Livestock management is a broad field and there are many resources available. This strategy sheet will focus on some of the key considerations for raising livestock near streams.

The most common issues that arise from having livestock along a stream are livestock waste washing into the stream, livestock trampling or overgrazing riparian vegetation. Livestock can also cause streambank erosion. In order to reduce these negative impacts, the preferred management practice is to create a buffer between the stream and your livestock. This buffer can be plant materials or fences.

Fencing provides a strong barrier, but can also create problems if it is placed in the floodplain. Fence lines should be placed outside of the riparian buffer and take into account slopes and grading, runoff and vegetation.

Vegetated buffers are sections of heavy vegetation that limit or prevent livestock from reaching the stream. Specific types of vegetation can be used to further deter livestock. Vegetated buffers provide environmental benefits in addition to the livestock benefits. However, they do not provide an impervious barrier and livestock can find ways through.

It is often necessary for livestock to cross a stream or have access to drinking water. To eliminate large scale disturbance, crossings or access locations should be stable and limited to specific areas. Providing livestock with access to alternative drinking water sources such as troughs is also recommended.

Watch a video on managing livestock creek access at the LWOG YouTube Channel!

As many of the strategies in this Handbook aim to increase wildlife habitat, it is important to consider livestock on your property and your neighbors’ properties when creating or increasing wildlife habitat. In order to limit conflicts between wildlife predators and livestock, it is a good idea to maintain a buffer between livestock areas and wildlife predator areas. For example, it would not be recommended to install a chicken coop next to a wildlife tree/snag. Likewise, it is not a good idea to install a wildlife tree/snag next to a chicken coop.

Do’s and Dont’s of Livestock Management



Keep a buffer or barrier between livestock and wildlife habitat to avoid conflicts


Restrict livestock access to streambanks


Keep the stream free of livestock waste



Don’t create predator habitat next to livestock


Don’t allow livestock to access the entire bank


Don’t allow livestock waste, food or carcasses to wash into the stream

More Strategies to help accomplish Objectives you identified in the Questionnaires: