May 20, 2020


Water quality, quantity matter for cattle performance and reproduction



Water is the most important nutrient for cattle, and poor water quality can lead to poor performance and poor reproduction, according to a University of Georgia Extension bulletin.


The bulletin, titled "Water Requirements and Quality Issues for Cattle", stresses that providing the best quality of water available contributes to the optimal production of cattle.


Whenever there is a problem with poor cattle performance, drinking-water quality should be part of an evaluation, the bulletin says.


With regards to the amount of water an animal needs each day, this would depend on size, stage of production, condition and average daily temperature.


Water requirements double when temperatures increase from 50 to 95 degrees F. Cows and bulls will need 15 to 20 gallons of water per day during the summer months.


During the hot summer months or when there is a drought, focus should be on water quality, which tends to decline as the concentration of pollutants increases when water evaporates and becomes stagnant. Many compounds in water can negatively affect cattle performance and health.


Water temperature can also affect cattle performance. Cool water helps cattle maintain proper body temperature and leads to increased water intake, while warm water in shallow ponds or small water troughs lead to decreased water intake.


The bulletin suggests that, in the absence of deep ponds, groundwater be pumped into large water tanks, where water does not generally heat up enough to affect water intake.