Water Consumption On Farms Increases As Temperatures Soar

A cow’s water consumption increases during periods of high temperatures. With most parts of the country experiencing temperatures well above 25°, an inspection of your farm water supply is warranted.

While grass growth had returned to somewhat normal levels after a period of stunted grass growth due to drought conditions – it appears to have slowed again.

Grass Growth

For the coming week, grass growth rates are expected to reach 56kg dry matter [DM]/ha in Leinster, 62kg DM/ha in Munster, 64kg DM/ha in Connacht and 65kg DM/ha in Ulster this week.

This is back on the previous week, after the exceptionally good weather that was experienced over the weekend and so far this week.

Water Intake

During a period of high temperature it is important to remember that cows will drink a larger quantity of water.

A cow’s water intake can increases by 30-50% in periods of high temperatures. A cow’s water consumption is usually between 60-80L/day.

But in current temperatures, water consumption could be over 90L/cow/day.

Water Troughs

Before entering paddocks you should inspect the water trough(s) and ensure that it/they are working properly.

If you do not already have troughs located near the parlour and/or on the farm’s roadway, you should consider installing some.

Up to 50% of a cow’s water intake occurs three hours after milking, so having troughs in strategic locations will reduce the pressure on the trough in the paddock.

It is not good enough just to see water in the trough as a cow can drink 14L water/minute. The drought in 2018 showed that many farm’s water supply was lagging behind, with cows emptying troughs.

Water Consumption

For a 100-cow herd you need a minimum flow rate of 1,200L/hour or 20L/minute is advised. To determine if the flow rate in adequate you should complete the following steps.

How to check the flow rate:

  1. Mark the level of water in the drinker;
  2. Tie-up the ballcock and empty 20L from the drinker;
  3. Release the ballcock and measure how long it takes to fill to the mark;
  4. Divide 20L by the time taken to refill.

You should ensure that the flow rate is adequate for your herd size and cows are not emptying troughs and then waiting for them to be filled. This will cause cows to become stressed and lead to reduced yields.

(Source – Agriland – Brian Mc Donnell – 21/07/2021)

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Rural Enterprise Skillnet

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