Gear Up to Haul Water

Cattle will need up to 22.5 gallons per day depending on size and temperature By Lon Tonneson

Published on: May 7, 2008

"You don't know what work is until you have to haul water to cows in a drought," Ewald Fink, Delmont, S.D., says.

Unfortunately, more Dakota stockmen may learn that lesson this year. It's dry through much of central and western North Dakota and NDSU Extension specialists are issuing guidelines about how much water cattle will need this summer.

Roxanne Johnson, NDSU Extension water quality associate, says that water requirements for cattle may double during hot weather.

The general estimates of daily water intake for beef cattle at 88 degrees Fahrenheit are:

  • Cows – 16.5 gallons for nursing calves; 14 gallons for bred dry cows and heifers
  • Bulls - 18 gallons
  • Growing cattle - 9 gallons for a 400-pound animal; 12 gallons for a 600-pound animal; 14 gallons for an 800-pound animal
  • Finishing cattle - 14 gallons for a 600-pound animal; 17 gallons for an 800-pound animal; 20 gallons for a 1,000-pound animal; 22.5 gallons for a 1,200-pound animal

Estimates of daily water intake for dairy cattle at 80 F are:

  • Dry cows (for maintenance and pregnancy) - 16.2 gallons for a 1,400-pound animal; 17.3 gallons for a 1,700-pound animal
  • Lactating 1,400-pound cows (for maintenance and milk production) - 17.9 gallons for 20 pounds of milk production; 24.7 gallons for 60 pounds of milk production; 38.7 gallons for 80 pounds of milk production; 45.7 gallons for 100 pounds of milk production.
  • Heifers (for maintenance and pregnancy) - 3.3 gallons for a 200-pound animal; 6.1 gallons for a 400-pound animal; 10.6 gallons for an 800-pound animal; 14.5 gallons for a 1,200-pound animal

For more information from NDSU specialists on livestock water intake, see www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/ansci/livestoc/as954w.htm.