Seminole Crop E News

Agricultural News for Farmers and Agribusiness in SW Georgia

Water for Elephants… I mean to say Calves

Posted by romeethredge on August 29, 2011

I had an interesting call this week asking if young calves need water.  We might think of them getting all they need from cows milk, but no they need water , and it can be a deadly situation when it’s hot and dry. The cattleman had water nearby but he noticed that the 2 month old calves were panting like they were thirsty and then noticed that they couldn’t reach the water in the trough, they were too short. One thing that happens over time at almost every cattle water trough is that cattle drag or pack down the level of dirt at the water trough. In other words, what may have been with in reach may not be in reach later.  When temperatures are high the amount of water that cattle need rises as well of course.

In talking with Decatur County Agent Mitchell May, he says a 250 pound calf may use 3 gallons a day and even the youngest calves need clean water.

About 6 months ago the cattleman had dirt and rocks piled up around this waterer so that the calves could easily get to the water. The level was up to about where the first ring is, where my knees are now in the photo. It’s amazing how quickly cattle will drag dirt away from the watering trough. Cattleman Robert Faircloth says that during rainy weather it happens even quicker, I guess the muddy dirt sticks to their hooves worse?

Here’s some info below from the UGA website also more info is at this link.

“Water is the most important nutrient for cattle.  It accounts for 50 to 80% of an animal’s weight and is involved in every physiological process.  Cattle cannot adapt to water restriction and feed intake will be greatly decreased if water is restricted.  Water availability and quality can become a major issue during a drought. It is important to check water sources frequently for water availability and quality during a drought.”

“Water is the most important  nutrient for cattle, but providing clean water for cattle is often overlooked. Most  problems will occur in the summer when pond water is contaminated with one of  the anti-water quality factors such as manure, dissolved solids, nitrates,  algae, or sulfates. Research is variable, but has shown weight gain increases  up to 20% in calves provided water pumped into a tank versus calves drinking from  a pond to which they had access. Poor water quality can lead not only to poor  performance and poor reproduction that often goes unnoticed, but can be deadly  as well. Special attention should be given to water quality during the hot  summer months when most problems occur. Using the best quality of water  available will contribute to the optimal production of cattle.”

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