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Rainwater Harvesting for Livestock on Farms
Water is getting scarcer, and the cost of mains water is rising – and likely to continue doing so. Livestock on farms needs a lot of water. So, it makes sense to look for other sources of water for the animals – and rainwater is an obvious solution.
Water is needed for cleaning, hosing down machinery and vehicles as well as for drinking – and the quality of water for drinking must be higher than that of washing the tractor. Animals might need as much as 120 litres a day, every day – and the costs add up.
Humans have been harvesting rainwater for thousands of years, but together with the rising demand, climate warming and consequent water shortages, it has never been more attractive.
Modern technology has enabled us to improve the quality of the water by better filtration, chemical disinfection when needed, pumping and storage tanks. Maintenance has been made easier and farmers can save not only considerable water costs but also have the satisfaction of having a store of water in hand in case of water shortages.
Basics of Rainwater Harvesting Systems
Before you install a system, speak to the experts! Enduramaxx have the professional knowledge you can benefit from.
The basic system involves the collection of rainwater from a suitable surface – usually a roof. Filtering it to eliminate coarse debris such as leaves. Draining it into a storage system and then processing for further treatment if needed. Finally pumping the now cleaner water to where it is intended to be used.
Rainwater is rarely completely free of pathogens and heavy metals. The roof may be contaminated with bird faeces and the surface may contain such things as asbestos or other toxins. A mains backup system should be in place in case the rainwater supply runs dry.
Is harvested rainwater safe for animals to drink?
When you think about the places animals naturally drink from: streams, ponds, rivers and other watercourses you might wonder why the rainwater needs any treatment at all. And if the roof is new and clean, and the rainfall is heavy in an unpolluted area – then maybe it doesn’t. But an older roof, a light rainfall and a polluted atmosphere suggest that the quality of the water is unsafe for animals to drink.
What else can you use rainwater for?
Apart from drinking, farms have many uses where rainwater can be used:
- Livestock feed preparation
- Cleaning pens
- Management of slurry
- Washing vehicles
- Hosing the yard
Regulations for rainwater harvesting
Here is a list of regulations you need to comply with:
- The Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulation 2000 states that all animals must have access to adequate fresh and clean water each day.
- Planning and building regulations.
- Water fittings regulations.
- Environmental permitting for pigs and poultry.
- Farmed animals and food production – clean water must be used to remove surface contamination from animals and annual inspection by the environmental health officer undergone.
- Water impoundment and abstraction – you need a licence if you intend to abstract more than 20 cubic metres a day, and also if your rainwater storage is mixed with any other water. (Contact the Environment Agency for clarification.)
- Nitrate Vulnerable Zones These are zones where nitrate pollution might be a problem. When you harvest rainwater the volume of slurry is reduced.
- Health and Safety
Return on Investment (ROI)
Payback times are roughly 5-10 years, depending on your water supplier and your installation and maintenance costs.
Grants and Assistance
The situation regarding grants is fluid. There have been grants available for farmers, such as the Enhanced Capital Allowance Scheme for Water, but time has run out and this is no longer available – but – there are likely to be further schemes. You can read the latest information here.
Enduramaxx rainwater storage tanks
Enduramaxx publishes a free guide to rainwater harvesting. We also supply rainwater storage tanks with all the fittings you need. You can see our range here, different shapes and sizes to suit your farm – and even portable ones. Our tanks are made from rotationally moulded plastic, which gives a smooth clean finish and is quick to install. They are UV stabilised to give many years’ service. Speak to us for more details on 01778 562810.