Document Type


Publication Date

January 1983


The effect of grazing on water quality has been documented by bacteriological studies of streams adjacent to grazed areas. Bacterial release from fecal deposits is a parameter of the pollution transport mechanism that is poorly understood. The objective of this study was to determine a fecal coliform release function for cattle fecal deposits. Standard cowpies were rained on with a rainfall simulator, and the fecal coliform counts were determined using the most probably number (MPN) method of enumeration. The fecal deposits were rained on at ages 2 through 100 days. The effects of rainfall intensity and recurrent rainfall were tested. Naturally occurring fecal deposits were also tested to compare their results with the results from the standard cowpies. A log-log regression was found to describe the decline in peak fecal coliform release with fecal deposit age. The 100-day-old fecal deposits produced peak counts of 4,200 fecal coliforms per 100 milliliters of water. This quantity of release is insignificant compared to the release from fresher fecal material. Rainfall intensity had little effect on peak fecal coliform release from fecal deposits that ere 2 or 10 days old. At age 20 days the effect of rainfall intensity was significant; the highest intensity gave the lowest peak counts, and the lowest intensity gave the highest peak counts. The effect of rainfall intensity appears to be related to the dryness of the fecal deposits. Peak fecal coliform counts were significantly lowered by raining on the fecal deposits more than once. This decline was thought to be produced by the loss of bacteria from the fecal deposits during the previous wettings. Standard cowpies produced a peak release regression that was not significantly different from the regression for the natural fecal deposits. Apparently, grossly manipulating the fecal deposits did not significantly change the release patterns.