It is common practice for many Georgia farmers to use their fish ponds for watering livestock. A pond located in a pasture is a convenient and dependable source of water for stock.
However, allowing livestock to have free access to a pond is not advisable in regards to animal health and management of the pond for fish production.
From the standpoint of animal health, some diseases are spread throughout the herd by animals coming into contact with urine and/or feces discharged from infected animals. Since farm animals like cattle or hogs will defecate in or around ponds, the disease can rapidly spread throughout the herd from contaminated drinking water.
Allowing livestock free access to a pond will also interfere with managing the pond for fish production. Livestock will erode the dam and shoreline area. Also, stock will wade into the pond. Both of these conditions will muddy the pond water. Ponds in which stocks are allowed to wade are usually muddy throughout the year. Muddy pond water can interfere with fish reproduction and slow fish growth. Also, muddy ponds enriched with manure are more likely to have a fish kill resulting from summertime oxygen depletion.
Livestock should be fenced away from ponds. Water can be supplied to stock by situating a tank with a float control below the dam. Water is cleaner; livestock do not damage the dam and pond, and the pond can be more easily managed. A couple of producers in our area were able to get cost share dollars for installing a system like this.
If you are contemplating such, contact NRCS to see if cost share is available.