Vast Amounts of Water Required for Milk Production
– Dairy cows require huge quantities of water for the milk production for which they are so famous. It is essential for all dairy farmers to provide water for their herds with a highlight on ease of access so all members of the herd can stay hydrated.
– Cows consume the most water just after eating and just after they have been milked. The location of the water trough is essential so that all cows, regardless of size, can have even access to water.
– Ideally the trough should be located close to the cow feed then they are able to stay hydrated as soon as they have eaten.
Some Key Milk Production Figures
- It takes 4.5 pounds of water to make 1 pound of milk
- On average, a cow will produce 8 gallons (70 pounds) of milk each day which equates to around 128 glasses
- Milk is made up of 87% water
Fluids are Essential for Cows
– A dairy cow’s internal system requires different types of fluid to aid in digesting feed. This includes saliva and stomach acids which both rely on water to maintain a healthy level.
– If they do not receive enough water then other physical factors of the cow will be decreased. They will not be able to digest feed properly, they will start eating less and their energy levels will drop.
Ideal Amounts of Water
– One water trough for every 20 cows is ideal to make sure they all stay hydrated. Each one should hold a minimum of 5 gallons. The refill rate must be a minimum of 2.5 gallons every minute to maintain the clean flow of fresh water.
– It is often difficult to monitor exactly how much each cow will drink but as long as there is a vast amount of fresh water with enough space for every cow to drink then the herd will usually stay hydrated.
Donna Amaral-Phillips, Extension Dairy Specialist for the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment
“Cows need to consume between thirty and fifty gallons of water per day to maintain milk production.”
“That’s more than four hundred and fifteen pounds of water every day.”
Jeffrey Bewley, UK Associate Extension Professor
“Managing water on a per-cow basis in a dairy herd can be quite difficult for any producer but is crucial for milk production.”
“For this reason, dairy producers have to make decisions that benefit the entire herd. That’s why we allow the cows ample access to water at the UK Dairy—so they can drink as much as they want.”
“It’s important for the water trough to have enough space for multiple cows to drink at the same time.”
“Three to five inches of water space per cow is usually adequate, and the height of the trough should be two to three feet from the ground.”
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Farm & Equestrian Water Use Survey
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