Water - The forgotten nutrient!

Whether cattle or sheep are inside or outside it is crucial for the performance of stock that we ensure the supply of water is adequate to meet their needs by considering the following factors:

• Water intake drives dry matter intake

• Water needs to be clean, fresh, and readily available. If you would not drink it yourself it is not clean enough!

• The average dairy cow spends just 30 mins per day drinking yet a 40lt cow could require more than 150lt/day to meet her needs.

• Milk is 87% water in a dairy cow.

• Periods of heat stress through high temperature or humidity could increase the requirements by 1.2 to 2 times.

• Cows will not walk more than 250m to water, so troughs need to be correctly located with sufficient flow rates to meet their needs throughout the day whilst at grass.

• Check flow rates, it may be possible to change/service ball valves to give better flow.

• It is not just milking cows; dry cows, youngstock, sheep and beef animals all need consideration. A typical suckler cow could require 55lt of water per day to support milk production. A ewe at peak yield requires 8 litres water per day.

• There should always be at least 2 working troughs in any one pen to ensure access to all animals when required.

• Water from a source other than mains should be tested regularly for mineral antagonists and bacterial contamination.

• Mains water should always be used for calves and lambs as other sources will be higher risk for causing scour unless treated before use.

If you require further information regarding the water requirements of your stock, please contact your local DN Sales Specialist who will be happy to help.

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