Understanding dairy cows and water intake
Milk comprises almost 90 percent water, so it’s not surprising that a cow’s water intake has a major effect on her milk production. When you provide a proper fresh water supply, cows drink more, eat more and produce more milk.
For every litre of milk produced a cow needs to drink at least three litres of water. For high performing cows that’s 150 litres of water every day – if you reduce the amount of water you reduce the amount of milk a cow produces.
Always make sure clean and fresh water is easily accessible to all your cows. If you don´t want to drink the water in your barn, neither do you cows.
Water intake is related to animal size, age, activity, productivity and environment. Remember that both water quality and water intake are important and often related.
Clean and fresh water is important to keep your cows healthy and for the quality of milk from your herd. It is important to use an effective pumping system and the right amount and type of water in your troughs and bowls.
Water bowls should provide approximately above 20 litres per minute for cows and water tanks should supply 30 to 40 litres per minute. One water trough is needed for 20 cows or it should be calculated at least with 10-15cm per cow. Two water sources per group are needed to avoid stress situations for the lower ranked cows. This is a general recommendation but it should be noted that many dairy producers, especially those in warm climates, exceed this recommendation and feel that their cows respond positively.
The water tanks need to be easily accessible. It is important to have 2,5m till 3m of space around the troughs to reduce pushing and shoving. Many farmers have installed extra water tanks near the parlour exit or they have put water in the parlour.
Like people, cows prefer to eat, then drink, eat, then drink and so on. Water troughs need to be easily accessible, within 15 metres from the feeding table.