How much water do cows drink

Producer Question from 2016

Q.  How much water do cows drink per day? (July 19, 2016)

A.  Water requirements for beef cattle depend on weight, stage of production (such as lactation), and temperature. As you increase weight, the amount of water needed also increases. Same holds true for temperature, as temperatures increase, so does water intake. Also, if the animal is lactating, water requirements also increase.

Following are some thumb rules on water intake that may be helpful.

  1. Daily water intake may vary from 3 to 30 gallons per day depending on age, body size (weight), stage of production, and the environment (mainly air temperature).
  2. As a rule of thumb, consumption will range from 1 gallon per 100 pounds of body weight during cold weather to nearly 2 gallons per 100 pounds of body during the hottest weather.
  3. Lactating cows require nearly twice as much water compared to dry cows.
  4. Clean fresh water free of manure, dirt, and other debris is important.

For more information, please see the Water Requirements for Beef Cattle article.

Dr. Rick Rasby
Professor of Animal Science
Associate Dean, Nebraska Extension