Water supply dairy cows’ most vital need at pasture

Water is the single most important requirement for cows at pasture, but it is all too often over looked, warns DairyCo extension officer, Adam Clay.

“With cows drinking between 60 and 100 litres a day, it is essential to provide good supply and access to water at the right times of the day,” he says.

Water trough space must allow for 10% of the herd to drink at the same time, with the rim of the water trough 75cm above ground level.

“Cows can drink 14 litres/min, equating to 140 litres/min if 10 cows are drinking at the same time. Therefore, water flow must also be sufficient to allow rapid refilling so there is plenty of water in front of the cows.”

Trough placement is also key. “Peak time for drinking is straight after milking, so ensure troughs are available in the collecting yard, just after milking and on route to the grazing area.”

In the field, position troughs so cows do not have to walk more than 250m to access them. “Use electric fence to help access one centrally-located trough if you are strip grazing.”

Also, place troughs in sheltered positions away from the wind to prevent spillages and poaching. “Muddy, poached areas around troughs can become a real breeding ground for flies, spreading disease.”

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