Dale Watson
Commercial Agriculture Beef and Livestock Specialist
University of Missouri Extension




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Please send your comments and sund suggestions to Dale Watson, Commercial Agriculture Beef and Livestock Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, 111 N. Mason, Carrollton, MO 64633, call 660-542-1792, or send messages by e-mail to: watsond@missouri.edu.
For the Week of
February 10, 2000

Water:  A Vital Nutrient

Throughout much of the Midwest water continues to be a concern for many livestock producers. The period of July through November 1999 was the second driest time period on record as recorded over the last 105 years. The simple lack of rainfall was the reason for this. Portions of the country that depend largely on water impoundments as their main source of this very important nutrient have seen a steady increase in the area that is above the water level and what is considered the overflow portion of the dam. Many small streams are dry or frozen dry which eliminates this as a watering or pumping source.

Ideas for developing alternative watering sources continue to require responses. Spring water is a possible source for livestock at certain locations. Most questions relate to how to develop this source and what watering facility will be needed to make this system work. It is very difficult to determine what the capacity of a spring will be prior to developing it. A wild guess is closer to the answer to this question. Guidelines are available through several sources for this procedure. If you are interested in receiving a copy of these methods, feel free to contact me.

First we need to find a source of water that is available on your operation. Frequently just thinking about areas where you have been stuck will provide an area to look for water. This may be on hillsides, draws, or any area that has been avoided during wet seasons. If this is the case you may be able to develop a spring that will provide water on a limited basis. Some individuals are pumping form one impoundment to another.

Frequently we find a well that has not been used recently. If this becomes a vital water source, definitely test the water for possible toxicity and know what you are offering your livestock. Nitrates may be a problem with this source.

We continue to observe an increase in the number of water tanks in small trucks. This method of hauling for domestic or livestock use requires considerable time and adds to the expense.

Management of the water systems becomes a major concern water sources are ponds or lakes. Water is a must for all plants and animals. Having an indication of daily consumption provides an indication of the amount of water needed. Depending on the season of the year a beef cow will consume 5 to 12 gallons of water per day. In the summer time when the temperature is 100 degrees plus in the shade the consumption definitely increases. A 400-pound calf will consume approximately 4 gallons per day.

The cold weather, which was considerably warmer than what many of us remember in past years, added to the reduction in the amount of available water. When the water holding structures get low and we have nearly twelve inches of ice, the remaining liquid form is drastically reduced. The warmer weather we have experienced the week of February 7 promoted thawing of ice, which was a blessing for many livestock operations.

Think about what you have available; generally it is remarkable what can be developed through some source that is already available though not where you are accustomed to having it.

University of Missouri ExtensionDale's Country Trails - February 10, 2000
http://outreach.missouri.edu/agconnection/DCT/CT021000.html -- Revised: April 20, 2004