Off-Site Water – How does it influence cattle performance, pasture distribution, and water quality?
High Desert Ranch & Family
Water is the most important nutrient for livestock production but it is often neglected. I don’t want to trivialize the need for the other five nutrients (carbohydrates, protein, fats, minerals, and vitamins); however, a deficiency of water will cause stress, sickness and death much faster than a deficiency of any other nutrient. This is because water is such a large component of the body. It makes up approximately 60 to 70% of the total weight of the animal. Table 1 provides a list of approximate water requirements for cattle, sheep, and horses. In this article I will discuss some issues relating to the interaction of water availability and cattle. Specifically, the issues that I will address are: 1) the influence of water quality on performance; 2) the influence of off-site water on grazing behavior and pasture distribution; 3) the ability of offsite water to improve water quality and decrease use of riparian areas; and 4) the economics of off-stream water developments.