By Karen Johnson, UMN Extension Educator, McLeod and Meeker Counties
The summer is heating up. What could be more refreshing than a nice cool glass of water after being outside? Our livestock feel the same way as they live out their day-to-day lives. Water is said to be the single most important nutrient on earth. Rightfully so, as the body of both human and livestock alike is made up of 60-75% of water.
Why is water so important? Water is used in every cell of the body. Water helps transport nutrients and oxygen to and from body tissues. It aids in the digestion, absorption and metabolization of nutrients. Water helps the body eliminate waste material and helps maintain a healthy body weight. Water helps cushion the body’s organs, joints and tissue. It helps to regulate body temperature. For new and expecting mothers, water is vital for maintaining the necessary fluid for fetal growth and milk supply for baby.
How much water do livestock need? Water requirements vary significantly, depending on the species. Age, growth rate, pregnancy, lactation, activity, type of diet, feed intake, and environmental temperature all contribute to water requirements for livestock. NDSU Extension has a useful guide called “Livestock water requirements” www.ag.ndsu.edu/-publications/livestock/-livestock-water-requirements/as1763.pdf which share specific water requirements for beef, dairy, horse, sheep, and swine.
What can you do to maximize water intake of your livestock?
Make sure that water is easy for animals to access. Watch the behavior of animals as they visit the waterer or water tank. If excess fighting or struggles of more timid animals accessing the water is occurring, add additional water sources.
Keep waterers clean. Remember: if you don’t want to drink the water, why should your livestock?
Periodically check water quality through testing. Tests can analyze for nitrates, sulfates, minerals, hardness, total dissolved solids, and bacteria.
It is essential to both humans and livestock alike to have clean water to drink. Schedule a routine to check waterers or water tanks multiple times a week to make sure that your livestock are getting the precious water they need.
For more information, feel free to contact Karen Johnson, Extension Educator in McLeod and Meeker Counties, at (320) 484-4303 or email@example.com.