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
October 22, 1998

Water - A Must for Animal Survival

There is no other nutrient that is more important than the water supply for livestock. This nutrient is the basis for all physiological systems including digestion, nervous, circulatory and reproduction. Not only is the supply important, but the quality and electric charge must also be considered. We often fail to see that proper water supplies are maintained throughout the winter months. Regardless of the amount and quality of the forage or concentrate portion of the ration, adequate water must be provided on a regular basis.

A pregnant beef cow consumes approximately 6 gallons of water daily. A beef cow nursing a calf will increase her consumption to 8 gallons per day. This is largely due to milk production. A 400 pound calf will require approximately 4 gallons of water per day.

A pregnant sow requires 1 gallon of water and a sow nursing a litter of pigs will require 3 gallons of water per day. Ewes require 3/4 gallon of water per day and dairy cows require a minimum of 8 gallons of water per head per day.

Energy for maintaining an ice free water supply varies. We are seeing more ground temperature and solar related energy being used in maintaining ice free water supplies. If you are using electrical energy to maintain ice free water, check the amount of current present in the water. Every year livestock are lost in electrical related incidents. Remember livestock are much more susceptible to electricity than humans. There are several observations that will provide a clue if stray electricity is present. Observe how and from which direction livestock approach the watering source. Do the livestock approach the water facility from generally one direction? Do livestock place their feet in a certain position prior to touching the water with their mouth? Do they lick at the water surface or drink freely? The direction of approach indicates there is stray electricity present in the area surrounding the water facility but one area contains less current than other surrounding areas. Where the animals place their feet also indicates there is less exposure to current in certain areas compared to other spots on the drinking pad. Licking frequently indicates the presence of stray electricity. Also if the animals tend to jump or step over a certain area in a gate or doorway then this area needs to be considered for stray electricity.

The winter of 1997/98 provided ample water in numerous places and many of these were not in the locations we would like the supply to be located. The results was pure old deep mud. However, we must assume the winter of 1998/99 will be different from last winter's temperature. Frozen sources of the water supply need to be remembered. We can assume beef producers will need to spend more time this winter concerned with the supply of fresh water compared to fighting the mud as was done throughout 1997/98.

University of Missouri ExtensionDale's Country Trails - October 22, 1998
http://outreach.missouri.edu/agconnection/DCT/CT102298.html -- Revised: April 20, 2004