Make sure cattle get enough water

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Summer is now in full swing, including a couple of heat waves. Do your cattle have access to sufficient quantity and quality of water?

As I have traveled around parts of Western Wisconsin I have observed that some areas are in need of some rain, in spite of the wet spring we have had.  This may have an impact on streams and ponds that some beef producers use as a water source for their cattle.

Water is a sometimes overlooked essential element that livestock need. Making sure the cattle have sufficient quality and quantity of water is important for cattle to achieve optimum growth and performance.

The amount of water an animal needs daily is dependent upon many factors. Size, age,stage of production, condition, and average daily temperature are all factors that influence an

animal’s water needs.

The following table can be used as a guide/ starting point  for water requirements of various classes of beef cattle at different temperatures.  Needs may actually be higher depending on specific environmental conditions and other factors influence stress on the animal.

Table 1. Water needs in gallons per head per day


In addition to quantity cattle producers should also pay attention to the quality of the water, making sure that it is fresh, and that there is sufficient capacity that all animals may get access to the water in a timely manner.

If cattle have to walk more than 900 feet to water, they will drink as a group rather than individually, and it is important to size tanks and capacity accordingly so that all animals can get sufficient water.  When they drink as a group, a minimum standard is that the tank should hold at least 25% of the groups total daily need at 5 to 10% of the animals can drink at once.  If the tank cannot be refilled in an hour or less, use a larger tank.



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