As any other animal, a dairy cow needs food and water in order to produce milk. While the more affordable resource, water should receive the same amount of attention as any ration of feed. After all, milk consists of 87% water! To produce 1 liter of milk, cows need 3 liters of water, or up to 4 liters in the summer time. This is equal to a volume of 80 to 170 liters per cow a day. If their water intake is restricted in any way, the cows will yield less milk!
Drinking as nature intended
When the animal walks up to a waterer, it will immediately dip its planum nasolabiale into the water and suck noiselessly taking in the water in deep, long gulps. By setting up waterers for your cows you take a piece of nature to the cows in your shed.
When drinking, the animals should stretch out their heads slightly forward. This can only be achieved by keeping the edge of the trough at a distance of no more than 80 cm above the area on which the cow is standing. As the water running into a small drinking dish fitted with a valve foams up, the cows are forced to swallow an unnecessary amount of air along with the water. This can be avoided
by letting the animals drink from a standing water basin which gives them a certain distance to the valve.
A water depth of at least 15 cm is required both to provide the required water quantity and keep the dirt accumulating at the bottom of the trough throughout the day from reaching the sucking planum nasolabiale. Regardless of these facts, all waterers should be cleaned on a daily basis.
A trough length of 2 m allows several animals to drink at the same time. This corresponds to the natural behavior shown by herd animals. The cows should, however, not be allowed to drink the trough empty. A big floater valve, a 1 to 1½ inch feed line and a water pressure of 3-5 bar should, therefore, be present in order to achieve a water feed of 50 l/min.
A known benchmark for determining the number and size of troughs to be installed in a shed is a trough space of 8-10 cm per cow. However, the quantity alone is not enough. The systematic arrangement and a well-organized distribution of the waterer spaces throughout the shed can improve accessibility also for lower-ranking animals. It is in the cow's nature to be lazy. The next trough should, therefore, not be further away than 15 meters.