Rayner Reckons

Nov 26

Managing Stock Water

Posted on Tuesday, November 26, 2013

How are your water supplies at the moment?  Water quality & quantity is vital for livestock health & performance. Unfortunately I reckon many people don't manage their water as well as they could.

How much water stock need to drink each day depends on several things.  First it depends on what class of stock they are.  Lactating cows need more water than dry stock will.  Secondly it depends on the feed that stock are grazing.  High quality pastures have more water content compared to a dry standing feed and this influences daily water intakes as well.  Finally temperature has a big influence on water intake.

This might seem like common sense. But do you have any idea how much water your cattle need every day?

NSW DPI has two excellent publications outlining water requirements for livestock and to help audit your water supplies.  

The daily requirements for cattle are much greater than many people realise.  

Lactating cows on grassland will require between 40 - 100 litres. On saltbush country this increases to between 70 - 140 litres.  

Dry stock (400kg) will require 35 - 80 litres.

In hot conditions you should expect the daily requirements of your stock to increase by up to 40%

So how much water do you have to get through coming months?  I reckon now is a good time to conduct a quick check of your water supplies.  

Many people talk about trucking water for cattle.  I reckon trucking water is a huge undertaking if you are to actually supply your stock with the required water levels each day.

The other question to ask yourself is how well are you managing your water supplies?  If you are allowing your stock to trample the edges of the dams, you will lose water quality through silt and animal waste pretty quickly.  Not only does this ruin the water quality,  it promotes algae blooms and pugs up the dam.  When stock are weak, wading through mud and silt to get a drink wastes precious energy.

Ideally managing water well, means maintaining both quality and quantity.  

Keeping cattle from fouling water supplies might mean investing in some ploy pipe, a trough, and some electric fencing to keep them off the dam.  

I know this might be a hassle to set up. However in the long term, if it maintains your water and helps you meet your animals daily requirements, I reckon its worth doing.

As we come into the hotter months, the importance of good water quality will be just as vital as having enough for your stock each day.

Keep an eye on your water.  Running a check should be part of your drought management plan.  If you are keeping track, you are much less likely to get stuck in a difficult situation if the drought worsens.

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