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My landlord has offered to fence in the 5 acres behind his sister's house for me to use to pasture the sheep. The property has a pond on it, and he says there's a problem with watermeal on the pond. It was treated a couple of years ago, but apparently the resident herons carry it between ponds. It would be easier for him to fence in the entire pond,rather than fencing it out. He wants to know if he needs to treat the pond for the safety of the sheep, or if they can drink from the pond (which is spring fed) without issue, even if it's covered in watermeal. Anyone know? I'd rather he didn't treat if he doesn't have to, and he says it's expensive to do so.

 

J.

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Come over here with a net and catch a couple of our Muscovy ducks. Since the family was brought t our pond, we haven't had the usual mess of duckweed and what we knew as duckmeal (the smaller version which migh be your watermeal). Or the filamentous green stuff - or the really nasty-looking stuff that looks like sewage.

 

The Muscovies also keep all but one pair of Canada geese from hanging around. We used to get up to 100 a day.

 

And they eat mosquitoes and ticks.

 

I have heard that it might be now illegal to keep Muscovies other than for show or food. But one can lie.

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You're right about the illegality of keeping muscovies. And it's because they are an introduced species that are taking over habitat of native species. I don't think I'd want to put muscovies on this pond, and frankly, given the predators around here, they likely wouldn't last long anyway.

 

J.

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www.btny.purdue.edu/pubs/apm for info on watermeal.

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Thanks Karen. I'm still trying to find it if it's harmful to livestock to drink from a pond that's overrun with it. We'd rather not use chemical controls, and if the sheep can't use the pond, then we would have to truck water in.

 

J.

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I wish I could be helpful in answering your question but according to this Duckweed/Watermeal if you can get a pond rake and skim off as much as possible and then introduce some goldfish, koi fish (craigslist) or grass carp into the pond that should help keep it at bay.

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Interesting. The link Karen posted said that grass carp don't find it palatable:

 

Non-chemical control options start with eliminating

obvious sources of nutrients, such as lawn fertilizers, leaf

litter, and drainage from feedlots. Skimming plants off the

surface can work, but the plants must be disposed of so

that they do not wash back into the pond. Introducing

grass carp is not a viable option because duckweed and

watermeal are not preferred foods.

Draining a pond is an alternative if renovation is desired.

The bottom sediments must be removed to eliminate

both nutrients and plants.

 

Though it might be entertaining to go with a rake and a jon boat and see how much I can remove. And that really does sound like the best option. I'm guessing this pond is near the woods, and of course if we run sheep there, keeping animal manure out will be an issue, but if I can rake and control it that way, then that would work well enough I think. I need to just contact the local extension folks and find out if there's any health risk to sheep.

 

J.

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Well, you know how the internet is. If you can get your hands on a couple of carp, they might be worth experimenting with. And if they don't make it, you only have 2 to fish out unless the buzzards get to them first. As expensive as koi are, you might want to try goldfish too in case the raccoons get to them.

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I think I trust Purdue's extension service to be accurate, at least for Indiana! I see that even if I want to skim, I'm a bit late for that. But I still think it's probably my best choice. It sounds like I'd have to do that before I could try fish anyway. I wonder if just disturbing the pond regularly will help? Guess I'll just start experimenting! ;)

 

J.

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We deal with this issue down at our Bolar Springs spring feed local pool. We (usually 4-5 of us) show up twice a week and scim the surface with leaf rakes. Monthly someones goes down and dredges the bottom stuff up to the surface (with a hard rake) and then we scimmers scoops it away to burn it in the campfire. It works. Baking soda is also an option, but it takes alot and is not good for the trout, so we do it the old fashion way.

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Not sure what your Carolina Game Commission is like, but here in VA, if you call them, they may often send out a freshwater biologist to give advice and help. My father,(wildlife bio)retired from VA Game Commission and had to be in the Richmond office a lot and hated office work. By Wednesday of the week, he would jump at any opportunity to go out to someone's farm to help them with a "problem". Worth a try, your tax money pays their salary and they work for you!

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Around here, duckweed is only a problem where there is a nutrient management issue -- usually excess animal manure washing into the pond. But it can also be caused by excessive lawn or crop fertilization. I believe it's nitrogen that causes the issue, but it could also be phosphorus.

 

So, while the duckweed itself might not be toxic (as some algae are) perhaps the water is carrying enough contamination to be unpalatable or even dangerous.

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Thanks Bill. There are a lot of ponds in this area, but only a couple seem to be affected with watermeal. Those seem to be bordered by woods, which makes me wonder about leaf litter. As far as I know, this particular pasture hasn't been used for anything in recent years, certainly not for livestock as it's not currently fenced. The fields nearby are mostly pasture for cattle or hay, but stocked at a fairly low rate. The other fields are tobacco, and I suppose there could be run off from those, but you'd think it would affect all the local ponds and not just one (for example, my landlord has a pond next to a tobacco field and it has no problems with watermeal, and the pond in the nearby cow pasture is also clear).

 

I guess I will continue on with the plan to talk to someone in the extension office (or maybe the game commission) about what's causing it and how we can deal with it. If the sheep can't use the pond for water then I might not be able to easily use this pasture for grazing. I'd rather not haul water because it's labor intensive.

 

Much (all?) of my landlord's property is managed as conservation land, so I'm pretty sure that chemical/fertilizer, etc. application is minimal to non-existent. They use controlled burns to manage pasture and forest and most the propery I'm on is being managed for "shy forest birds" so limited again to what is being done that could be harmful to wildlife. There are notices all over the place about managing the watershed, etc. That's not to say run off couldn't happen from nearby crops, but I just can't see how it would be large amounts.

 

J.

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Call the county extension service. You probably share one with one of the neighboring counties, but that's okay. They are bored and love to answer questions :D

 

Some of the old irrigation or cattle watering ponds in these upper counties have mineral pockets dumped in them that throw off the balance. We got copper dumps in Person. Clear water forever. As long as nobody ran fertilizer into it, anyway. :P

 

Here it's iron and sulfur. Weeds not too bad but just a hint of sunshine and the algae explodes. Next time I'm in Person County I have to remember to pick up a bunch of green rocks to put in the dog pool. I just have to rotate out the sheep water in five gallon white buckets. Algae can be so dangerous, youjust never know. The white at least discourages growth for a few hours!!

 

The extension service people won't know anything about this however. Not in their line of work and there's nothing to be done about it other than say, "oh, interesting!" ;)

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How about electric netting (like in Premier catalogue) to go around the pond. It's fairly reasonably priced, but you MUST pay the little extra to get the posts with the foot push in piece, trust me. Still doesn't solve your getting water to the sheep problem, hmmm......large stock tank brought in by a pick up truck, then add say 10 gallons a day to it or an extra long water hose? :) Just kidding.

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Double spiked Electronet is the very devil in any soil that has rocks in it. I got paid to use the stuff last summer, and even if there hadn't been other reasons to leave that job, the net would have been sufficient.

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Amen, Bill. The double spike helped a little, but mostly I had to rig the netting on metal T post to get anything that would stay up. (we have rocky ground too and I was trying to fence along the creek bank). My nearest neighbor is about 1/2 mile away, but I'm certain they could hear me cursing the netting from their farm. You must have at least two friends to help you when you go to put it up and a few beers afterwards to calm your nerves from untangling it! (In the defense of Premier: It is now up, rigged with T posts and plastic electric holders, and it does an excellent job of keeping small and large critters out of the creek and the same from coming in and getting my chicks. If it weren't for the netting I am certain skunks, opossums and coons would have gotten all my free range poultry.) Necessary evil.

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I love the stuff with single spikes. All the benefits and none of the hassle and bent spikes, etc. Apparently Premier started making the double spiked stuff when people who had been buying from them started to switch to a competitor's product (Kencove, maybe?) that was offering a double-spiked net. I guess it works great on crop ground.

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