22 May 1998

Make sure cattle get enough water

ARE your dairy cows getting sufficient water?

Andersons consultant, Greg Beeton, suggests many producers underestimate a cows water requirement which can be up to 90 litres of water/day for a high yielder, especially in warmer weather when grass dry matters are higher.

"Too many cows have limited access to water which reduces dry matter intakes and milk yield and leads to poor health," he warns.

Water consumption is significantly higher following afternoon milking when intakes can reach 20 litres/minute, he adds. "Producers must ensure that sufficient time and water is available for cows to satisfy their thirst."

At least 6cm (2.25in) of trough space/cow should be available. "But this could be tripled or quadrupled for drink space requirement in the first three hours post-milking," adds Mr Beeton.

Flow-rates should be checked to ensure supply can meet demand. Troughs must also be clean and easily accessible from several sides to allow nervous cows to drink without being bullied, suggests Mr Beeton. "If you wouldnt drink the water, why would a cow want to?"