Water Requirements for Beef Cattle
It has often been said that water is the most important nutrient. Water is the main component of the animal's body, constituting 50 to 80 per cent of the liveweight, depending on age and amount of body fat. An animal can lose almost all of its fat and about 50 per cent of its body protein and survive. However, the loss of 10 per cent of its body water can be fatal.
The four main functions of water in the body are:
Water consumption requirements depend on a number of factors including:
Table 1 estimates the water requirements of various classes of beef cattle and at different temperatures. The total water requirement includes both water intake from feeds plus that consumed as free water choice.
Rapidly growing cattle consume large amounts of feed. Table 2 estimates the water requirements of cattle based on feed consumption and air temperature.
To ensure optimal performance of cattle, we must make sure their requirements for water are met. The water provided must be clean and fresh to encourage the cattle to drink to fulfill their needs.
Table 1: Approximate Total Daily Water Intake of Beef Cattle in Litres*
*Adapted from: Nutrient Requirements of Beef Cattle: Seventh Revised Edition: Update 2000, National Research Council
**Adapted from Effect of Environment on Nutrient Requirements of Domestic Animals, 1981, NRC.
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