Water is something that we have plenty of here on the West Coast. It is essential to life and certainly for dairy cows. Milk is 85-89% water. Hence, why water is the most important component of the dairy cow’s diet. (Of course dry cows and young calves do need water too!) 

One lactating dairy cow can drink up to 200 litres per day. This depends on feed type, body size, milk production, temperature, humidity of the environment, water access and quality. Water problems are often unnoticed and ignored but can cause production problems, BCS loss, decreased feed intake and decreased feed conversion.

When we talk about quality, it is not only the bacteria and algae that can cause issues. High levels of iron and manganese in water can decrease feed intake dramatically! Calcium and/or Magnesium in hard water can affect your DCAD for the springers, which can affect your total of down cows. High nitrate levels in water can also reduce fertility and cause poor growth; especially if feed nitrate levels are high too.

Make sure that the smallest animals in a mob can actually reach into the water troughs. Water access must be easy and palatable; especially for sick, ill or lame cows. Calving and freshly calved cows need water for hydration, but if access is difficult or a long way away, they will not actively seek water.

Although a shortage of water is not an issue on the Coast, unfortunately quality and access to palatable and good quality water is. Before the season starts, if you have not done already, please check your water for your stock!