PHOTO of an Jasper Alberta septic field near the park ranger home - trees and mountain goats? - all great ideas for a national park and not so great for a septic field. Grazing Animals Over Septic System Components - an illustrated guide

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Horses, cows, livestock grazing over the septic fields? The cow is ok in the meadow, and the sheep can't do much damage in the corn, but horses, cows, and maybe some oveweight sheep stomping around in the septic absorption field is another matter entirely. This article discusses the passage of grazing animals over or near septic fields or other septic system components.

If sewage contaminants are present in grass or other forage, those may be a hazard to grazing animals as well as to people consuming meat from such animals. See SEWAGE CONTAMINANTS in FRUIT / VEGETABLES for details.

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Grazing Animals Over Septic System Fields?

Photograph of deer grazing on a field along the Virginia Skyline Drive (C)D Friedman

Is it acceptable to permit grazing animals such as cows, horses, or sheep to occupy a field over a septic system?

No, placing horses, cows, sheep, or other grazing animals over a septic field is a bad idea for several reasons.

  • Heavy animals are likely to damage the drainfield by compressing the soil and possibly by damaging buried piping. Compressing the soil over a septic drainfield interferes with soil transpiration, cutting the oxygen level needed by soil bacteria in the biomat and reducing removal of septic effluent through evaporation.

  • There is some chance that pathogens from septic effluent may pass to and infect the animals.

    More about the chemical and pathogenic risks associated with plants over septic systems is discussed at Gardens Near Septics.

In sum, it's better to keep livestock off of a septic field. In the photograph just above we show deer grazing on a field along the Virginia Skyline Drive at Big Meadows.

Deer or other wild animals passing occasionally over a septic drainfield are unlikely to cause serious damage to it.

The page top photograph of mountain sheep resting under trees was taken over a septic field serving a park service building in Jasper, Alberta, and the lower photo was taken of a large herd of deer grazing over a field along the Skyline Drive in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.


Continue reading at GROUND COVER, IVY OVER SEPTIC FIELDS or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.

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GRAZING ANIMALS OVER SEPTIC SYSTEMS at - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.

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