Fencline: June 28, 2012
Meadowlark Extension Agent
Livestock & Natural Resources
I don’t know why, but my garden looks the best I’ve ever had. I think it has something to do with the fact that other family members are taking an interest and helping me a bit.
I’ve harvested peas, lettuce, onions, zucchini, beets, peppers and now my first tomatoes. If only the pasture grass grew as fast as the zucchini. While some have had some good rains, we live in the middle and just can’t seem to catch one of the good rains. Our lawn looks like it’s late August or September.
I hear tell of farmers and ranchers having to start hauling water, as the ponds are drying up fast. Failure to get enough water will reduce animal performance more quickly and more severely than any other nutrient deficiency. So producers should provide livestock with plenty of good, clean water to drink.
A general rule for water consumption is that livestock need one gallon of water for each pound of dry matter consumed. Water requirements of grazing animals depends on several factors, including species, age of the animal, air temperature, moisture content of the feed and the distance the animals must travel to water. Moisture in the forage can greatly affect the water intake. Lush green pastures in early spring can contain enough moisture to meet part of the livestock’s daily requirements.
These hot dry days, there is not much moisture in the grass, so a lactating beef cow, on a 90-degree day would require 25-35 gallons of water, dry cows would need 20-30 gallons, 600-pound calves would need 20-25 gallons a day. Horses require 20-25 gallons a day, sheep and goats only need 3-4 gallons a day. Dairy cattle have the highest requirements if they are lactating at 30-40 gallons a day. When the weather cools to 50 degrees, all of these requirements can be cut in half. The temperature of the water is not critical. Cattle will readily drink water until it exceeds 105 degrees F. Although cooler water has been shown to improve milk production in dairy cows, an adequate supply of water is most important. Some research supports the idea that clean water has a positive effect on animal performance. Researchers in Alberta found that steers provided with fresh water gain 2.6 pounds a day, compared to 2 pounds a day when provided with pond water.
Texas A & M and University of Nebraska studies also indicate that water quality has an impact on animal performance. I’m hoping that some soaking, toad strangling rains reach you, and the thought of hauling water will be a distant memory!
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