Livestock watering

Water accounts for 50-80 per cent of an animal's overall weight and is involved in every physiological process. Managing water quality should be as important as the feed source and ration planning in any livestock management program.

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Livestock water requirements

Livestock require water in sufficient quantities and of sufficient quality for optimum health and growth. The total water needs of livestock are met through a combination of the water contained in feed and drinking water obtained separately from feed.

Intake of water depends on several physiological and environmental factors including size and type of animal, physiological state, activity level, diet, weather conditions, water quality, and ease of access.

The following table lists typical water consumption values for livestock. All other factors being equal, the primary variable affecting water consumption is temperature.

Typical daily water requirement for range livestock
Type of Livestock Winter Summer
Litres per dayImperial gallons per dayLitres per dayImperial gallons per day
Lactating Cows 77 17 95 21
Cow-Calf Pairs 50 11 68 15
Dry Cows 36 8 55 12
Calves 36 5 8 23
Growing Cattle (400-800 pounds/ 180-360 kilograms) 23-36 5-8 36-55 8-12
Finishing Cattle (600-1200 pounds/ 270-540 kilograms) 55 12 86 19
Bulls 36 8 55 12
Horses 36 8 55 12
Sheep 3.6 0.8 14 3
Source: The Stockman's Guide to Range Livestock Watering From Surface Water Sources