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The Cattle Connection

The cattlemen's connection to timely topics, current research, and profitable management strategies
cows drinking water

Drought Management: Water

Posted by Travis Meteer - Drought

The dry weather has certainly taken a toll on pastures, crops, and water sources. http://waterwatch.usgs.gov/new/index.php?m=dryw&r=il It is important to remember water is as important as other nutrients to maintaining proper animal function and performance.

A number of factors are involved with the water requirements of an animal. Several factors include rate of gain, stage of production, activity, feed intake, type of diet, outside temperature. Obviously weight of the animal and ambient temperature will influence the requirement as well. Heavier animals in higher temperatures will have higher water requirements. Also, feedstuffs in the animal's rations play a role. Feeds like silage, pasture, and wet co-products all have higher moisture content and thus water intake is reduced. Increased salt, protein, and crude fiber in the diet increases water intake. Energy density of the feed also can play a part. Higher energy feeds generate more metabolic water than low-energy feeds.

"Lactating cows may consume 18% of their body weight in water. A 1200 pound spring calving cow will require about 216 pounds of water on a hot summer day (not counting calf consumption). A gallon of water will weigh roughly 8 pounds, this equates to 27 gallons of water per cow per day" according to OK State Extension. For more information on cattle water requirements: http://www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/live/g2060/build/g2060.pdf

As ponds and creeks become low, water quality will be an issue as well. Increased concentration of total dissolved solids (TDS) can occur in a drought situation. This can cause palatability and toxicity problems; if TDS exceed 7,000 ppm, provide another water source (Noble Foundation). For more info on water quality in a drought: http://www.noble.org/ag/soils/water-quality/

Drought brings forth many challenges for producers, but with knowledge and timely action we can prevent or minimize lost profits.



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