A little drinking water

Cattle need way more water than you might think. A lactating cow in the middle of the summer can drink around 18 gallons of water a day. A heifer who is not pregnant will drink around 10 gallons of water a day in the summer. Calves don’t need that much, because they are getting lots of liquid from their milk diet, but they still need access to fresh water. The herd we have at our home this year will be 7 cows and 7 calves, plus 3 pregnant heifers this summer. They will drink between 150-200 gallons of water a day as we get into the summer months.

At our farm, the cows drink from the same well water that we do. This is the water trough we have in the pasture with our three heifers. This is a 100-gallon tank. We last filled it up about 4 days ago. Normally, we keep a hose with an auto-fill valve in the tank, but we are doing some house construction and our water supply is a little different than normal, so we pull a hose out and fill the tank up as needed. The red disk floating in the water is a heater, so the water doesn’t freeze when the weather gets cold.

water trough with heater

This water is a little on the green side. We usually have goldfish that live in the water tanks. The fish eat the algae and bugs that get into the tank and help to keep the water clean. A bunch of our fish died recently and we haven’t replaced them yet.

In our main pasture we have an automatic waterer. This sits near the barn where their hay is during the winter and near where we feed their corn. The outside of the waterer is heated to prevent freezing. The cows push the red ball down with their nose to get to the water.

automatic waterer

Just like this, but with their noses, not their hands. Because they don’t have hands. (And, my, do I need a manicure!) When the water level gets too low, the automatic part kicks in and the tank refills so the next cow has plenty of water to drink.

automatic waterer demo

Lucky for you, when I was out taking photos, one of our cows volunteered to give a demonstration. Now introducing, number 6!

She used her nose to push down the red ball to get a big drink…

cow drinking from automatic waterer 1

Picked her head out up out of the water (and left a little backwash)…

cow drinking from auto waterer 2

And back up pops the red ball, ready for the next sip! Thank you, number 6, that was a great demonstration!

cow drinking from automatic waterer 3

Do you know how much water your pets drink? What do you do to keep water for your outside pets from freezing in the winter?


4 responses to “A little drinking water

  1. In reference to our email discussion a few days ago…much better!

  2. We don’t have outside pets at my house, and I honestly have no idea how much my inside cat drinks… she drinks out of our toilet – the cat is weird like that.

  3. Goldfish in the water? weird!

    I’m not sure how much Oscar drinks. I refill his bowl every morning with fresh water and if it is low during the day I’ll refill it again. And i usually fill it up if he has dog friends coming over and after they leave I will wash it and fill it again. I never really thought about how much.