Category Archives: Livestock Programming

Funk River Fence Unique to Canada October 8th, 2015

Posted in: Livestock Programming Watershed Moments

This post was submitted by Alan Wiebe, Watershed Assistant at the Seine-Rat River Conservation DistrictBlog 1

The Rat River is a picturesque waterway viewed from Peter Funk’s farm along Highway #216. The river winds its way through Peter’s property which his cattle use for grazing. Peter needs to fence off the river to prevent his cattle from wandering away when the water level is low. Fencing off the river, however, creates an obstruction for canoeing enthusiasts who use the waterway throughout the summer. The Seine-Rat River Conservation District (SRRCD) partnered with Peter Funk to develop a way to fence off the river and keep it safe for canoeists.

Funk River Fence

You may have driven past Peter’s farm where the Rat River crosses Highway #216 and noticed an innovative response to this mutual concern. The FunkRiver Fence is a pilot project coBlog 3mprised of a steel cable strung across the river. The cable is raised a few meters above the water level. PVC piping is hung from the cable creating a ‘curtain’ that deters cattle from wandering away and allows canoeists to safely pass. The curtain of pipes move with the breeze and water current creating a visual barrier for the cattle. Canoeists simply maneuver through the pipes which freely hang in the water above the river bed.

River Fence Unique to Canada

The river fence design was first developed in the United States by a group of concerned boaters in Colorado. The group decided to take action after a man on a paddle board was injured after becoming snagged on a barbed wire under the surface of the water. The group collaborated with a local rancher to find a way to meet the needs of both the rancher and the boaters. The river fence provides a way to keep the cattle enclosed on the property while eliminating fence hazards for boaters.

The Funk River Fence is unique to Canada and was funded by the SRRCD for under $1,000. The fence was assembled by our staff who cut the PVC pipes to length. Each pipe is fitted with a wire loop that is fastened to the cable that extends across the river. Each pipe is spaced about one foot apart to maintain a uniform curtain effect. The cable is threaded through fence posts on either side of the river. Once the cable was threaded through the fence posts, SRRCD staff waded waist-deep into the river to make final adjustments to the length of the pipes. The Funk River Fence pilot-project is a creative idea implemented by people who care about our watershed.

We are always looking for innovative ways to partner with the residents of our watershed district. Feel free to contact our office in La Broquerie at 204-424-5845, or in Vita at 204-425-7877. You can also visit us online at 2

Another Sustainable Project by the SRRCD September 8th, 2015

Posted in: Livestock Programming Watershed Moments

Post submitted by Alan Wiebe, Watershed Assistant at the Seine-Rat River Conservation District

Mateychuk Winter Watering System

A small group of curious cows approach us at the site of the Mateychuk Winter Watering System. It’s a sunny March morning and we are facilitating a tour of this unique project with the Seine-RIMG_1861at River Conservation District (SRRCD) and Brad Mateychuk. The cows don’t seem to mind our presence as they take turns lapping from the water basin.

The Mateychuk Winter Watering System is designed to provide a safe and reliable water source to livestock. It uses a solar powered pump to draw water from a nearby dugout. Thesystem has already weathered two winters of use and it is a great way to restrict livestock access to surface water, like rivers, streams, and dugouts.

Problems with Direct Watering

A couple of yearsIMG_0383 back, the Mateychuk’s lost two cows that fell through the dugout ice while trying to reach the water. Aside from the high cost and risk of losing livestock, direct watering is also related to a number of herd health problems, like increased exposure to water-transmitted diseases, foot rot, and leg injuries.

Allowing livestock direct access to surface water is a concern to producers, their downstream neighbours, and the broader community. Livestock may contribute to loss of riparian vegetation and function, and the bigger concern relating to the deterioration of water quality.

Mateychuk’s Partner with the SRRCD

The Mateychuk’s partnered with the SRRCD to install their winter watering system with the SRRCD providing 50% of the total project cost. Our Riparian Management program for livestock is designed to protect and enhance the area along waterways known as riparian area or floodplain. We provide funding for fencing off sensitive dugouts, streams, creeks, and rivers, establishing alternative watering systems, installing livestock crossings, and restoring riparian areas through tree planting.

Today, the Mateychuk’s are still pleased by how well their system performs in the harshest of winter months. Their positive feedback has spread by word-of-mouth and three other local area producers have partnered with us to implement similar projects.

Brad Mateychuk is such a strong supporter of this program that he is available for site tours and to answer questions for other interested producers. The SRRCD would be happy to arrange a tour of the Mateychuk winter watering system or assist you in learning more about our Riparian Management programs for livestock producers. Feel free to contact our office in Steinbach at 204-326-1030 or in Vita at 204-425-7877. You can also visit us online at or send us an email at


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Protecting your Riparian Zone March 8th, 2015

Posted in: Livestock Programming Watershed Moments

It’s a sleepy winter morning as Chris and I head to an out-of-town conference. We are coming to this event to display information about our organization, the Seine-Rat River Conservation District. A lot of people are curious about who we are and what we do.

Who is the Seine-Rat River Conservation District (SRRCD)?

We are different from Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship. The SRRCD is a not-for-profit organization.  We work towards sustainable land and water resource management. Our job is to identify goals to improve the health of our watershed. We partner with neighbouring municipalities, the Province of Manitoba, the private sector, and local residents to achieve these goals. We are funded by the Province of Manitoba and our municipal partners. Our Board is made up of both Councilors and local residents.

The staff of the SRRCD conduct the day-to-day activities of our organization. We implement programs to meet the watershed goals identified in our district. We have a knowledgeable staff of environmental experts ready to answer your questions and support your project ideas.

Meet Chris Randall

The sun is barely over the horizon by the time we get to the conference. I take a log sip of coffee as I glance over at Chris Randall, our project supervisor. He is playing with the truck’s heater controls. Chris moved from England to Canada about five years ago. He’s a proper English gentleman who’s about as optimistic as a rainy day. One time, I asked him what he did before he came to Canada. He told me that he was raised by lemmings in the Arctic, and recalled that young people in his day didn’t ask so many questions.

Chris has managed many environmental projects throughout his extensive career in the United Kingdom. In the summer, Chris and his family love to canoe along Manitoba’s beautiful waterways. He recently earned his Master’s degree from the University of Manitoba. His research focuses on willow bioengineering techniques to reduce shoreline erosion. This means that Chris has worked really hard to develop innovate ways of using Manitoba plants to enhance our waterways. Chris oversees a lot of the projects we do at the SRRCD, including our Willow and Understory Planting program.

Willow and Understory Planting Program

The SRRCD has recently purchased young seedlings for our Willow and Understory Planting Program. This program helps landowners restore and protect the area along their waterways. This area is called the riparian zone. The SRRCD can help landowners reduce river bank erosion by planting trees and shrubs in their riparian zones. The SRRCD will provide the plants for free, depending on how much stock we have, and plant them for you this spring. We are always looking for new project sites for our Willow and Understory Planting program. If you are interested in restoring or enhancing your riparian zone with willows and other trees, you can call our office in La Broquerie at (204) 424-5845, or in Vita at (204) 425-7877, or visit us online at

The Prairie Road Home

The conference room is buzzing with activity, and Chris is busy talking with curious people who have gathered around our booth. Chris works very hard to make himself available to our district area residents. He has a wealth of valuable knowledge and experience to offer as the SRRCD works together with local area residents to improve the health of our watershed.

It is getting late by the time Chris and I get ready to go home. The truck is packed up and the wide-open prairie road is waiting for us. I glance over at Chris, who hands me a souvenir he picked up at one of the other booths. I asked him if he has ever met the Queen of England. He told me that the Queen once waved to him from a window, and recalled that young people in his day were never quite so nosey.