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
June 24, 1999

Water A Must For Livestock

The hot weather of summer always brings an increase in the use of water. This is true for all animal and plant life and also includes humans. Water is needed for the regulation of body temperature, growth, reproduction, lactation, digestion, metabolism, excretion, hydrolysis of protein, fat and carbohydrates, regulation of mineral homeostasis, lubrication of joints, nervous system, cushioning, transporting sound, and eyesight. Water is an excellent solvent for glucose, amino acid mineral ions, water-soluble vitamins, and metabolic waste transported in the body. After considering this partial list, the importance of water becomes a major factor for life.

Water consumed ad lib plus water consumed from feed intake fills the daily requirement for animal life. Factors that influence water requirement include rate and composition of gain, pregnancy, lactation, activity, type of diet, feed intake, and environmental temperature.

Spring growth of forages provide an excellent source of water. However, as the growing season progresses and plants mature moisture content is reduced and water must come from another source.

The higher the moisture content of feeds, the more water is available from these sources for use within the body. However, as the dry mater content of forage increase with maturity the water intake must come from another source.

Body growth, fetal growth, lactation, excretion of feces and urine, and evaporation through sweating, breathing and skin, influence water requirements. Changes in temperature influence water intake. The water intake on a 400-pound growing heifer or steer increases from approximately 4 gallons per day at 40 degrees F. to 9.5 gallons per day when the temperature increases to 90 degrees F. The daily increase in water consumption for beef cows weighing 900 pounds increases from 6.0 gallons per day to 16.2 gallons per day as the temperature increases from 40 degrees to 90 degrees F.

Water availability is very important for livestock. Restricting water consumption or intake to less than the animals requirement will reduce performance and decrease efficiency.

University of Missouri ExtensionDale's Country Trails - June 24, 1999
http://outreach.missouri.edu/agconnection/DCT/CT062499.html -- Revised: April 20, 2004