Water: Questions & Answers

By Dr. Justin Waggoner, Beef Systems Specialist

Most cattle producers fully understand the importance of water. After all, providing an adequate supply of clean, fresh, water is the cornerstone of animal husbandry. There are very few things that compare to the feeling of fiding thirsty cows grouped around a dry tank on a hot day. Water is important, and in situations where the water supply is limited or we are forced to haul water, one of the first questions we find ourselves asking is “how much water do those cows need?”

The old rule of thumb is that cattle should consume 1 to 2 gallons of water per 100 lbs of bodyweight. Accurately determining the amount of water cows will voluntarily consume is difficult and is influenced by several factors (ambient temperature, moisture and salt content of the diet, body weight, lactation etc.). Water consumption increases linearly as ambient temperature increases above 40 degrees Fahrenheit such that cows require an additional gallon of water for every 10 degree increase in temperature. Additionally, lactation also directly increases the amount of water required by beef cows.

Another question that often comes up related to water is “How much water will my tank hold?” The capacity of a circular stock tank may be calculated using the equation below.

 

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