Pasture Watering Systems

 Knowledge Nuggets | Fact Sheets | Research Papers
Knowledge Nuggets
  • Pasturing livestock must have easy access to clean, fresh water at all times to be productive.
  • A water system that delivers water to each paddock increases livestock energy efficiency and improves manure distribution than one or two centralized drinking locations for the entire pasture area.
  • Livestock tend to drink individually where water is supplied to paddocks that are 10 acres or less in size. Moveable tanks connected to a water supply are sufficient. Depending on cattle numbers and tank size, flow rates of 2 to 6 gallons per minute are required to keep the tanks full.
  • Usually it is best to locate the tanks along fence lines somewhat central to the paddock. Changing location along the fence line from time to time will help reduce localized damage to forage stands.
  • If the installation of water lines to get water to all paddocks is not possible, utilize lane ways. Try to keep maximum travel distances to under mile. When livestock must walk to a centralized water supply, they tend to move as a herd. Ensure that there is adequate flow or tank reserve to provide enough water for the entire herd to drink within 20 minutes or less.
  • Do not have the tank located under shade because this will encourage animals to rest in that area and cause a buildup of manure and a loss of nutrient from off of the land.
  • Erosion problems in lanes leading to water has a negative effect on the grazing system. Allowing direct access to ponds, streams or springs results in bank deterioration, water pollution and poor quality water.
  • Water requirements depend on temperature, stage of production and water content of the diet. As a rule, animals will consume approximately two times their daily dry matter intake in water.
  • When developing a water system, keep in mind possible expansion of the grazing area or grazing intensity that will increase the number of animals to be watered.
  • Water quality influences how much water livestock will drink. They will be more reluctant to drink bad tasting or contaminated water and may allow themselves to become more stressed before drinking. If animals drink less they will consume less dry matter and will perform less.
Fact Sheets

Alternatives to Direct Access Livestock Watering - available in PDF format only

Livestock Watering Systems in Saskatchewan - available in PDF format only

Pasture Water Systems for Livestock

Remote Pasture Water Systems for Livestock

Water Management on Pastures: Livestock Water System Alternatives

Watering Systems for Grazing Livestock - available in PDF format only

Research Papers

Consumption and drinking behavior of beef cattle offered a choice of several water types - available in PDF format only

Let us know of more good research papers for this topic.
  For more information about the content of this document, contact Grant Lastiwka.
This document is maintained by Linda Hunt.
This information published to the web on September 3, 2003.
Last Reviewed/Revised on September 22, 2014.

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