Having fresh, clean water for cows to drink is a key part of producing high-quality milk on Irish dairy farms.

Milk is almost 90% water and cows drink 4-4.5L of water/kg of milk produced.

So, ensuring that cows have access to adequate clean water is important – especially as we enter into the warmer summer months.

Clean water

As we enter into the warm summer months, now is a good time to inspect troughs and clean them out if required.

Algae, or foreign objects in the water, may lead to a decrease in water intake from cows.

Cleaning the troughs and removing any foreign objects will ensure that they have access to clean water.

It is also important that troughs are checked before cows enter into a paddock, to ensure they are working properly – particularly on hotter days.

Water intake from cows is increased on warmer days and when the dry matter of grass is increased.

So ensuring that the trough is working properly and has adequate water pressure is important.

Smaller troughs can work fine, so long as there is sufficient water-flow into them. Cows left without water on a hot day can quickly become stressed – which should be avoided.


This time of year, when water is in high demand from cows, also gives an insight as to how well water systems are working.

If a trough is empty after cows use it, it is likely that the flow of water is lower than the demand.

In this scenario, a wider pipe is often required to increase the amount of water that can flow through the system.

On some farms where cows are walking longer distances it may also be useful to install troughs on highly trafficked areas, i.e. near the parlour or along roadways.