As the seasons change, so do the needs of animals. Now, kids are back in school and high school football teams are under the lights on Friday nights with their bands, cheerleaders and cheerleaders. weather. It’s the perfect time to get ready for the season ahead.
When I think about cover cropping, fencing, rotation practices, the use of stockpiled fields, the amount of hay I sell or buy, and the hundreds of other administrative decisions growers make for their farms, I list — water.
We all know livestock need access to a clean, tasty, reliable source of water. But when I recently attended a Beef and Forage Field Night at the Jackson Agricultural Research Station at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, I was surprised to find that many of the attendees were enthusiastic about water access at the station. rice field.
A few people I sat near said that this was an area of the farm that needed attention and they probably knew before the winter cold set in. If you’re in the same position as many of these growers, read on for a few things to think about when planning the future of your business.
According to beef cattle nutritional requirements, a lactating cattle needs at least 12 gallons of water per day in 50 degree weather. In the summer he is 90 degrees, and it will be more than 16 degrees. Completed, even a 1,000-pound calf needs 9 gallons on a 50-degree day and 20 gallons on a 90-degree day.
If you have sheep and goats in your flock, add 2-3 gallons per animal on cold days and more water on hot days. That number varies depending on stress, water content in the feed, and availability of water sources — my human children drink from my cup in the living room, but walk to the kitchen and find their own. water — the livestock of your operation.
However, these are good numbers to start with. From these you can calculate how much water your animal consumes each day.
Livestock need ready access to the clean water they drink. Research shows that water is often the limiting factor in animals achieving their full growth potential and full earning potential when looking at market changes.
A Missouri study showed that moving livestock less than 800 feet to a water source could increase pasture carrying capacity by 14%. Adding additional water sources to your fields can also reduce the chaos, broken troughs, trampled ground, and headaches caused by cattle coming to drink en masse and herd movement patterns.
Depending on the water source, some tests may need to be done to ensure the water is not contaminated. Natural sources such as streams and ponds should be monitored for quality during periods of environmental stress. Even the water in storage tanks should be inspected frequently for signs of algae growth, disconnections, and other problems.
As winter approaches, we need to make sure our water sources are weather resistant. This may mean burying water lines under frost lines in some states, adding moving water features, or adding safe heat sources. Do not keep animals without a water source during the cold season.
There is no single correct way to provide water for animals, but the easiest way to add work and possibly reduce production is to do nothing and wait and see what happens.
Don’t be afraid to try different ways to improve your water use. However, be sure to test frequently during transition periods to ensure animals are utilizing the new system.
Water is the most important nutrient we provide to animals. This allows the stomach to function at its best and maximizes the work put into the field, the animals and the overall operation.
Good practices in providing quality water sources lead to improved animal health, growth and ultimately profitability.
If you have questions about best practices or need more information on this topic, please contact your local extension office or review the Livestock Water Development Fact Sheet at Ohioline.osu.edu.
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