The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK


May 25, 2013

Water is essential

ENID, Okla. — Green grass is a welcome sight, especially for everyone coming out of a winter that wouldn’t end.

And as cattle head to summer pasture, focus is on the high-quality nutrition available in that new growth. But there is one essential nutrient — the most essential nutrient — that merits attention.

Water must be available in adequate quantity and quality to support functions ranging from digestion and milk production to blood volume, joint lubrication and waste transport.

Despite the importance of water intake, there is limited research available on measureable impacts of restricted intake or poor water quality. We do know an animals’ requirement for water is driven by a combination of factors: size, feed intake, rate and composition of gain, milk production, activity, ration composition, and of course climate. As the temperature rises from 40 to 90 degrees, cattle will double the amount of water they drink.

Diet impacts water needs several ways. First, as animals eat more, water consumption must increase as well.

Knowing how and when animals drink can have management implications. With adequate access to water, cattle will drink two to five times per day. However, in extensive grazing situations, less frequent drinks will lead to less total intake — and presumably, less feed intake as well. If cows have to travel one-half mile or more to their water source, they will tend to make those trips as a group. If that trip is less than 900 feet, they are much more likely to come individually or in pairs. In situations where the whole herd will come together, there needs to be enough tank capacity to handle 25 percent of the groups’ daily needs at once. It is also important to have enough access for 10 percent of the animals to drink at once.

When water availability is restricted, cattle will immediately respond by decreasing feed intake. This has an obvious impact on growth and reproductive performance. Metabolically, cattle have a very low tolerance for dehydration, and a 10 percent loss in body water is severe. And because one of the roles of water is toxin removal, limited water intake can lead to a dangerous build-up of these compounds in the animal.

Water may contain several types of contaminants that can potentially have a negative impact on animal nutrition, performance and health. These may be naturally occurring (i.e., high mineral levels due to local soil content), due to run-off of chemicals or excess nutrients, or involve dangerous levels of microorganisms. The upper “safe” limit for compounds that are of concern are shown in the table at the bottom.

Studies have been done at South Dakota State University with high-sulfate water. When rural/tap water was substituted for well or dam water, intake of feed and water was increased, along with gains, feed efficiency and health status in steers, and body condition in cows. Colorado feedlot research demonstrated a reduction in ADG, conversion and carcass characteristics with water sulfate levels of 583 ppm. In studies where sulfates were in the 3,500-4,000 ppm range, water intake dropped 35 to 57 percent.

Levels of nitrates, nitrites and sulfates assumed safe for most classes of livestock:

• Nitrate — less than 221 ppm.

• Nitrite — less than 40 ppm.

• Sulfate — less than 300 ppm.

• Total dissolved solids (TDS) — less than 3,000 ppm.

A livestock water test is inexpensive and a sample can be submitted by any extension office.

Nelson is Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service ag educator for Garfield County.

Text Only
  • farm - Rick Nelson web.jpg Wheat tour to provide crop information

    Damage to wheat from the recent freeze will depend on growth stages and temperatures. It will take approximately seven to 10 days following a freeze to determine damage.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • FFA logo.jpg Drummond students receive honors

    Several members traveled to Alva for the Northwestern Oklahoma State University Interscholastic Contest.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • farm - garber ffa web.jpg Garber FFA members place in speech contests

    The Ag 1 quiz bowl team placed fourth and qualified for state. On the second day of the event, the animal science quiz bowl team placed second and qualified for state.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Danna Zook cutout web.jpg Producers need to consider cow supplements

    Springtime for many Oklahoma producers often means calving time.

    April 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Master Gardener logocmyk.jpg It’s time to dirty hands

    Bees are venturing out to visit the new flowers. Keep a close watch on your garden. Often, helpful pest-destroying insects are out, getting ready to work for you, also. These, and the bees helpfully pollinating flowers, shouldn’t be discouraged by the undiscriminating spraying of insecticides.

    April 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • farm - 4H web.jpg 4-H’ers meet with state lawmakers

    Sen. Eddie Fields spoke to the group upon their arrival at the Capitol.

    April 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Canola tour to have stops in area

    The tour will be held at the canola field of Flying G Farms located 91⁄2 miles west of Orienta on U.S. 412 and then north into the field.

    April 12, 2014

  • farm - Rick Nelson web.jpg Money up front can mean bigger returns later

    Implants are a safe, effective technology that typically offer a 10-to-1 return on investment.

    April 5, 2014 1 Photo

  • FFA logo.jpg 9 area students to receive WLC program scholarships

    FFA members will tour our nation’s capital, visit with members of Congress and perform a service learning project within the Washington area, while building friendships with fellow FFA members from across the nation.

    April 5, 2014 1 Photo

  • FFA logo.jpg NW Oklahoma FFA members named proficiency finalists

    Three finalists are selected in each of 49 agricultural proficiency award categories. The state winner in each area will be announced April 30 during the 88th State FFA Convention held at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City.

    April 5, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads