Farm Ireland

Tuesday 23 January 2018

Teagasc guidelines to follow when calculating an animal's water need

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

Teagasc has issued guidelines to farmers on the water needs of cattle and sheep.

The advisory body warned that difficulties in keeping water supplied to livestock was now the primary concern for farmers.

Teagasc nutrition specialist Siobhan Kavanagh pointed out that milking cows and finishing cattle on high concentrate diets should never be left without drinking water.

Lactating dairy cows yielding 14kg/day need 60-80 litres/day of water. Those yielding up to 36kg require 80-100 litres/day, while cows milking 45kg/day need 130-155.

"Lactating dairy cows must have ad-lib access to drinking water. These animals cannot afford to be without water," Ms Kavanagh said.

Up to 80-90pc of the water requirements of milking cows are met by drinking water, said Ms Kavanagh, and that 30-50pc of the water needs is consumed in the first hour after milking.

Dry cows need up to 55 litres/day, calves require 20-25, beef cattle (300kg) need 20-25 litres/day, cattle close to finishing (600kg) need 35-60, depending on the system, and stock on high concentrate diets need up to 70 litres/day.

Sheep obviously have far lower requirements. Dry ewes drink 8-12 litres/day, ewes with lambs drink up to 10 litres/day, and finishing lambs need 5-7 litres/day.

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Where water has been restricted, Ms Kavanagh said over-drinking or water toxicity can be a problem.

"Allow gradual access to water when animals are very thirsty," Ms Kavanagh warned.

Irish Independent