5 April 2002

Clean and available waters vital to keep a healthy herd

By Wendy Owen

North-east correspondent

WITH turnout approaching, spare a thought for cows need for a clean and plentiful water supply, producers at a meeting in North Yorks, were told.

Water should be freely available, said Brian Pocknee senior dairy consultant with ADAS, who organised the meeting on welfare of cows at grass on behalf of DEFRA.

Dairy cows can drink up to 18% more when water is freely available than when the supply is limited to two periods a day.

It was not uncommon to see daily water intakes in excess of 100 litres/cow, said Dr Pocknee, who urged producers to ensure troughs were sited within 250m (280 yards) of the grazing area for cows grazing in hot weather.

"If using multiple troughs, it is important to put them close together. Cows will not walk to troughs which are furthest away from their immediate grazing area.

"A 1600-litre round trough allows up to 15 cows to drink at once. These are useful when water flow rates are poor, but they can be wasteful if water is allowed to go stagnant when the grazing area is not used for some time.

Care is also needed when cleaning out such troughs. "Avoid the temptation to pump or bucket water out into the immediate vicinity because this can lead to poaching, with the inherent risk to feet and udder."

On a hot day, 10% of the herd may want to drink at the same time, said Dr Pocknee. "Cows can drink 15-20 litres/minute and this needs to be catered for to avoid production suffering.

"Remember also that each cow drinking at a trough needs at least 450mm of space." &#42

WATERSUPPLY

&#8226 Maintain good supply.

&#8226 Keep it fresh.

&#8226 Close to grazing.