Water quality can affect land and cattle productivity. Let’s face it, cattle are naturals at drinking as long as there is a water source and access. What else is there to think about? The importance of water deserves the time and attention of cattle producers. Cattle simply cannot be healthy and gain well without good quality water. What’s more, ensuring pastures have a high-quality, sustainable and uncontaminated water source is a key component to environmental stewardship.
Check the Temperature
Water deprivation caused by high temperatures is usually accompanied with lack of green forage. In the absence of drought conditions, fresh forage can actually supply some of the daily water requirements for grazing cattle.
In winter months, water temperature is still an issue. In the case of surface water and large-volume tanks, freezing is a constant problem. Even if the water source is not frozen, water at, or near, freezing is not palatable for the animals. This can cause dehydration and result in stress which can lead to disease or issues that may require a vet visit.
Contaminants and Stagnancy
Cattle will make the same choice as humans if given the option of a clear, cool glass of water or a smelly, murky warm drink. Ground water supplies inherently collect concentrations of fertilizer, herbicides, feces, urine and can become contaminated with green algae and parasites that all discourage the animal to fully hydrate. In drought conditions, many surface water sources evaporate completely or are so stagnant the animals refuse to drink.
Large-volume troughs are also breeding grounds for bad bacteria, mosquitos and attract animals that can cause issues. Producers should have a plan in place for keeping contaminants out of water sources and reducing sources that can become stagnant before extreme heat or cold arises.
Severely dehydrated cattle show signs including sunken eyes, dry mucus membranes, and reduced dry matter intake. At just 7 to 10 percent dehydration, cattle can experience impaired immune systems, according to Robert Ovrebo, DVM*.
Automatic waterers offer a solution for eliminating instances of dehydration and are designed for this exact purpose: to make sure animals have temperate, clean water on demand. They are able to mitigate instances of disease caused by water borne contaminates, lack of access to fresh water and the dehydration that occurs when the water source is foul or too hot or cold.
Taking animals off of ponds and streams has a positive effect on the land and the rest of the ecosystem. The value of the land and producers’ ability to manage these resources produce a thriving enterprise. A comprehensive watering strategy should consider:
• Animal health
• Land management and
• Environmental stewardship.
Water quality is the foundation for how cattle genetics, health, feeding, and management strategies will either succeed or fail. Keeping cattle hydrated with the right mix of electrolytes is essential to an operation’s success. Conserving resources helps do this efficiently and preserve resources for other areas of the operation.
Ritchie Industries offers a range of automatic waterers that will suit a variety of needs. Visit Ritchiefount.com to locate a local dealer.
*Ovrebo, Robert G. Bovine hydration. Drovers CattleNetwork. Jan. 17, 2011. Available at: http://www.cattlenetwork.com/bovine-vet/bv-magazine/bovine-hydration-113983004.html