Are your drinking troughs big enough for your herd size?

Ensuring that your herd is adequately hydrated is of “paramount importance” for both productivity and herd health during the current heatwave sweeping the country, Teagasc advisors have stated.

If cows are thirsty, milk yield will drop; and in a period when average herd yields are down due to lack of grass growth, farmers need to maintain their yield where possible.

The average cow will drink 10L on a cold wet day; however, this intake jumps to between 90L-140L on a warm sunny day, according to the state agency providing research, advisory and education in agriculture, horticulture, food and rural development in Ireland .

Between 30%-50% of the animal’s daily water intake is drank within the first hour after milking.

To maintain a consistent flow of water to the trough for your cows, Teagasc recommends avoiding some common mistakes:
  • Ensure that the pipe is the correct size. If the pipe is too small, water pressure will be reduced at the troughs;
  • Is the trough the correct size for your herd? If the trough is too small, there will be an inadequate reserve in the trough, and furthermore result in bullying;
  • Be sure that the ballcock is the right size for the trough. If it is too small, the trough will be very slow to fill.

As herd sizes have increased in the last number of years, so too have the requirements for suitable infrastructure, including water troughs.

Having the correct size trough is paramount – more than ever in weather such as this – to ensure that all cows can get their full intake of water.

In many cases, if the drinking trough is the correct size for your herd, 10% of the herd should be accommodated at once.

There are a wide range of sizes available to match herd requirements.

For example, a 140-gallon trough, measuring 72in wide x 25.5in deep x 18in high, can cope with the drinking requirements for 100 cows.

Drinking troughs are some of the most important pieces of infrastructure on farms and, as numbers increase, so should the size of the drinking troughs.