Live Stock Farming

Livestock water use is water associated with livestock watering, feedlots, dairy operations, and other on-farm needs. Livestock includes dairy cows and heifers, beef cattle and calves, sheep and lambs, goats, hogs and pigs, horses, and poultry. Other livestock water uses include cooling of facilities for the animals and animal products such as milk, dairy sanitation and wash down of facilities, animal waste-disposal systems, and incidental water losses.

Water consumption rates for chickens

Water is an essential nutrient for life. Water consumption can be limited if the water is too hot or is contaminated with excess minerals. Water and food consumption rates are interdependent, so reduced water intake can also lead to reduced food intake. There are other factors that affect water intake, with temperature being the most obvious one. For example, chickens drink between 30-50% more water when the environmental temperature is above 32oC compared with when it is 21oC.  Water intake is also affected by the type of drinkers used. The rule of thumb for water intake is that water intake is usually 1.5 to 2 times feed intake.

Per ton of product, animal products generally have a larger water footprint than crop products. The same is true when we look at the water footprint per calorie. When we look at the water requirements for protein, it has been found that the water footprint per gram of protein for milk, eggs and chicken meat is about 1.5 times larger than for pulses. The daily water requirement of livestock varies significantly among animal species. The animal’s size and growth stage will have a strong influence on daily water intake. Consumption rates can be affected by environmental and management factors. Air temperature, relative humidity and the level of animal exertion or production level are examples of these factors. The quality of the water, which includes temperature, salinity and impurities affecting taste and odor, will also have an effect. The water content of the animal’s diet will influence its drinking habits. Feed with a relatively high moisture content decreases the quantity of drinking water required.

Given that drinking water needs are species-, farm- and management-specific, many producers today are opting to install water-metering equipment to obtain accurate measurements of water use. If medication is ever provided through the livestock’s watering system, the meter can be used to ensure proper dose rates.  Milk is composed of nearly 87% water. An adequate supply of quality water for dairy cattle is extremely important. Farmers typically provide cows with free access to fresh water at all times. The water requirements of lactating cows are closely related to milk production, moisture content in the feed and environmental factors such as air temperature and humidity. The cow’s peak water intake generally occurs during the hours of greatest feed intake like most animals.