Cows need at least three litres of water to produce one litre of milk. This means that high-yielding cows need more than 150 litres of fresh water every day! Depending on hot and dry climates, this amount can even be higher. Cows like to drink fast – up to 20 litres of water per minute up to 16 times a day, often after milking or a meal before lying time. The taste and smell have a major impact on intake, therefore managing water troughs is crucial and is often forgotten. It is worth making it part of a daily routine to check and clean out water troughs, whether paddock grazing or during the housing period. Positioning troughs is also important, a rule of thumb is at least 10% of the group should be able to drink together without competition and without emptying the trough.
A drainage point and a stop tap on each trough would be beneficial. Once the paddock is grazed, turn the trough off and remove the bung. This will allow the water to soak away and stop a build-up of algae and debris. Replace the bung 12 hrs before next grazing rotation.
Ideally position on the crossovers in cubicle sheds. Empty as cows are pushed out for milking. Also remember to keep crossovers clean.
Remember cows pay your wages! Contact Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org or your local FCG office, for help with upgrading or improving an existing water system.