Friday, 1 June 2012

Protecting Air Release Valves from Cattle

In the next week or so we expect to receive the small herd of cattle we've agreed to buy from a neighbour. Whilst we both remember our parents having cattle in our youth we have never directly owned or managed cattle. What we do know is that being much larger than sheep they do have a reputation of being harder on farm infrastructure and it is with this in mind we have a few small projects underway to try and avoid major issues arising.

There are a total of 3 air release valves along our farm water scheme that are out in the open and very exposed, one of them is in the photo below:

We contacted our trusty farm water scheme advisor, Phil Wells, and sought his advice on how best to protect the valves from cattle in a cost effective manner. Aside from letting us know that the height of our air valves should be much lower than they are (should be no more than about 30 cm from the ground) Phil had four suggestions:

  1. Locate the air release valves on the fence-line
  2. Install a stable / solid post adjacent to the stem leading to the air valve
  3. Install the air release valve at or below ground level and place a steel box or cap over the top
  4. Surround the air release valve with either a rock mound or old tractor tyre
We figured the easiest method for us was to source some old tractor tyres. It transpired that our local Beaurepaires store in Grenfell had 3 old tyres they were happy to give away. Apparently it is now very expensive for them to take old tyres to the tip due to landfill implications, so we really were doing them a favour.

Yesterday we called and collected our 3 old tyres. Fortunately at the time the Beaurepaires team had a forklift on loan and it was a simple process to load the tyres on the back of our ute. Here's a picture of the loaded vehicle after we drove it home.

It proved to be a simple process for the two of us to unload and locate the old tyres over each of the air release valves. Here's a photo of one of the 'finished products':

How effective the tractor tyres are as guards remains to be seen. The environmental impacts of using the old tyres seem to be:
  • Reduced landfill, although of course there are companies who recycle tyres
  • Additional edge-effect ... creating new micro-climates around the air release valves. It's possible that water will collect in the tyres and could be a place for mosquitoes to breed. If this proves to be the case and a problem it will not be difficult to temporarily remove the tyres and drill holes through the walls of the tyres
  • There is a risk that some species of fauna could get trapped inside the tyres ... and especially kangaroos given the shape of their legs
  • Phil has forewarned us that some reptiles do like to 'hang around' old tyres ... especially snakes!
We'll keep an eye on the effectiveness of the tyres and make adjustments if necessary. One thing's for sure ... sourcing and installing the tyres as guards was quick, low cost and easy to do.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Phil

Possibly two tyres on top of each other and filled with dirt will stop the snakes/spiders, make them imovable and make the standups even more robust. I have mada a forcing pen at the yards out of old truck tyres filled with gravel which works very well and cost about zero.