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
May 20, 1999

Water Key to Grazing Management

Water is the key to any successful grazing system. Regardless of the type of grazing system you select the availability of water influences the conversion of forage into beef.

Access to a clean and reliable water supply is essential for survival and promotes the digestion of forages. Available water may be provided through numerous sources. Springs, seeps, tile lines, wells, rural water districts, rivers or creeks and ponds are some of the major sources of water. Keeping animals from entering the water source will assist with reducing the potential of bacteria and possible diseases.

There are several thoughts that need to be considered when developing a livestock watering system. First the system must meet the livestock needs and be cost effective. Other considerations include protecting water quality, and reducing the amount of livestock travel to decrease the lane development of paths. All of these considerations have to take into account the water requirement of the type of livestock you are grazing. The guide for forethought is the daily water requirement. Dairy Cows require 20 to 30 gallons per head per day, Beef Cows require 10 to 15 gallons per head per day, Sheep and Goats require to 1 gallon per head per day, and Horses require 10 to 12 gallons per head per day.

Many livestock farms have water sources that have not been utilized and require a little thinking of how to tap this source for later use. For example, tile outlets and seeps can be channeled into holding areas that will store water for later use or when a specific area is scheduled for grazing. Frequently wells can be utilized through some cheap pumping method. Different water sources generally require different pumping methods.

Consider utilizing gravity-fed sources if water lines can be laid to meet pasture layout designed to meet the water requirements. Animal powered pumps have been utilized successfully when water is being drawn from ponds, streams or shallow wells. Ram type pumps often fit other methods of water supply. These water systems require falling water to work successfully. Another method of providing water is the use of portable pumps to fill adequate water holding facilities.

Another alternative is move livestock to water. This method frequently promotes the development of paths, which convert into areas that accumulate the flow of water creating small drainage areas. The type of forage, location of grazing areas in relation to amount of moisture and level of humidity all play a major role in the type of water supply provided for livestock. The best utilization of both forages and water is to keep the water supply within 1000 feet of the grazing animal. Frequently this is impossible especially in more arid areas and livestock must travel greater distances to receive their daily intake of water.


University of Missouri ExtensionDale's Country Trails - May 20, 1999
http://outreach.missouri.edu/agconnection/DCT/CT052099.html -- Revised: April 20, 2004
watsond
@missouri.edu