Water quality for livestock

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development - Roy Butler

Type: Webpage
Knowledge level: Introductory

Farm Table says:

Informative article on the importance of water quality for livestock, what types of contamination can occur in water sources and the daily requirements of water intake for different types of livestock. I was surprised to learn that lactating cows grazing salt bush can drink up to 140 litres of water per day.

This article talks about water quality and livestock needs in terms of daily water requirements.

The items covered in this article are:

  • Water quality
  • Salinity
  • Blue-green algae
  • Other water contamination
  • Important factors for livestock and water
  • Daily water consumption requirements

Key points were as follows:

  • Water quality is important for livestock to ensure production continues at the maximum level, decreases water intake can cause loss in production, dehydration and weight loss in livestock.
  • Water that is excessive in saline can turn stock off drinking leading to loss in production and can also cause salt poisoning in some cases.
  • Blue-green algae is poisonous to livestock and appears on the surface of water as a greenish liquid.
  • Other types of contamination in water include dead animals, faeces, chemical run off, birds, pesticides or heavy metals.
  • Some important factors to consider with livestock and water:
  1. Ensure water troughs are cleaned regularly
  2. For larger sized paddocks, more than one watering point is required
  3. Livestock will not be keen on drinking water if it’s warm so consider location, trough size and shade when planning watering points
  4. If moving livestock into a new paddock, you should move them to where the water is located before leaving them
  5. Cloudy or muddy water is ok for livestock to drink
  • Daily water requirements for cattle:
  1. Lactating cow on grassland = 40–100L
  2. Lactating cow on saltbush = 70–140L
  3. Young stock = 25–50L
  4. Dry stock (400kg) = 35–80L
  • Daily water requirements for sheep:
  1. Adult dry sheep on grassland = 2–6L
  2. Adult dry sheep on saltbush = 4–12L
  3. Ewes with lambs = 4–10L
  4. Weaners = 2–4L
  • Daily water requirements for horses:
  1. Lactating horses = 80–150L
  2. Young horses = 20–40L
  3. Horses = 40–50L
2019 - Australia - Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development - Roy Butler
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