Best Management Practices – Livestock Management

Livestock management is critical for farm profitability and sound environmental stewardship. Below are best management practices (BMPs) that have been developed for livestock management to encourage soil and water conservation across Virginia. For updates on technical assistance and current programs available, please visit your local USDA Service Center, Soil and Water Conservation District, or Extension office.

“Soil and Water – Virginia Agricultural BMP 
Cost Share and Tax Credit Programs.” Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. 2014. Web. 11 July 2014.

Virginia Agricultural Cost-Share Manual

(Most photos from USDA)

Grazing Land Management


Having fences, gates, stabilized crossings, and animal pathways, protecting heavy use areas, planting hay and grass for forage, conveying water through pipelines, developing springs, and/or constructing water facilities prevent erosion, while improving soil and water quality, harvesting efficiency, and forage production.

“Grazing Land Management Systems.” USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. n.d. Web. 14 July 2014. 

Loafing Lot Management System


Dividing farm areas into lots (with one used as the sacrifice lot) and rotating cattle protect the vegetative cover, capture manure, and lessen the amount of runoff.

“Loafing Lot Management System WP-4B.” n.d. Web. 14 July 2014.

“Virginia Best Management Practice: Loafing Lot Management System (WP-4B).” Piedmont Environmental Council. 2014. Web. 14 July 2014.

Exclusion, Streamside


By fencing off streams, building hardened crossings, and providing off-stream watering, farmers increase dairy cow productivity, drinking water quality, pasture quality, forage use, stream bank stability, biodiversity, and wildlife habitats, while reducing disease incidents, calving losses, water pollution, and erosion. To discourage livestock from entering the stream area, farmers place salt blocks, scratching posts, shade, and windbreaks reasonable distances away from the stream.

Zeckoski, R., Benham, B., and Lunsford, C. “Streamside Livestock Exclusion.” Sept. 2007. Web. 11 July 2014.

Exclusion with Grazing Land Management


Photo from

Rotational grazing, alternative water systems for livestock, stream exclusion fencing placed thirty five feet away from the stream, and hardened pads for winter-feeding help prevent pathogens and runoff to enter streams with water quality problems.

“Virginia Best Management Practice: Stream Exclusion with Grazing Land Management (SL-6).” Piedmont Environmental Council. 2014. Web. 14 July 2014.

(Livestock) Exclusion with Reduced Setback


Photo from

Eliminating direct access to surface water, establishing rotational grazing, developing springs and seeps, constructing wells, repairing ponds, pits, and dams, using fence chargers, and installing pipelines and storage facilities improves plant cover while decreasing runoff and non-point source pollution.

“Virginia Best Management Practice: Livestock Exclusion with Reduced Setback (LE-2).” Piedmont Environmental Council. 2014. Web. 14 July 2014.

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