Stock water supply
Priorities for cooling cows
1. Cool drinking water
Maximise heat transfer – provide
2. At any location
Maximise access – provide multiple
Access to drinking water
When cows drink, they transfer heat from their bodies
to the water via conduction.
Effective heat transfer depends on differences in
temperature. Cold water transfers more heat away from
the cow than warm water.
Allow 200-250 litres/cow/day in hot weather – double
the normal intake.
Make sure cows have access to cool water wherever
they are during the day or night.
This cow is transferring heat from
via contact with the water.
Volume and space
Milkings cows usually drink after milking and they can
consume up to 20 litres of water/minute. Around 30%
of daily consumption occurs just after milking, so water
should be easily accessible as soon as cows leave the
dairy (not a 1-2 kilometre walk away).
- Optimal drinking temperature is 15-20°C.
- Troughs should be 600-900 mm high (cow feet
level to top of water point).
- Water depth should be 150-200 mm to maintain
cool temperature and reduce debris accumulation.
- Water reticulation systems should supply at least
- Each trough should be able to hold at least
200-300 litres of water with a minimum flow rates
of 10 litres/minute.
- Trough volume can be reduced to about 100 litres if
the flow rate is increased to 20 litres/minute.
This trough is on the southern end of a feedpad.
Saline water can affect animal health and affect the
effluent management system.
- Stock water supplies should be analysed regularly
to check salinity levels.
Install troughs adjacent to feed alleys and dairy yards so
cows have to place their head through the fence to
- Make sure you can get access to troughs for
- Use a bung to drain the trough into the effluent
- Plumb troughs so that water can drain back into
concrete feed alley or yards after cleaning.
- Rectangular water troughs are easier to drain
- Ensure manure does not build-up around the base
Stock water points should be cleaned at least weekly to
remove any feed residue or other contaminants.
This stainless steel trough is located at the intersection of
laneways leading to/from the dairy.
On this farm each feedpad has two circular concrete troughs.
Water point locations
Paddocks and laneways:
- Provide watering points in every paddock, as this
will keep cows grazing longer in hot weather. If they
have to leave the paddock to get a drink they often
do not return to graze.
- A large water trough on the exit side of the dairy is
- Locate in wide passage, preferably on the outside
of cow traffic curve.
Dairy holding yard:
- Install troughs along sides of dairy yard so cows
have to place their heads through the fence to drink.
- Place troughs away from the feed source on the
down-slope side of the pad, so that water can
drain directly into the effluent management system.
This helps to minimise the formation of wet patches
throughout the feedpad.
- Place water troughs within about 15 m of the
- Locate away from the feed alley to prevent feed
contaminating the water.
- Locate within the feedpad complex, so that spillage
and flushing can be directed into the effluent
- Locate water troughs at the crossovers to prevent
feed contaminating the water and to reduce the
incidence of cattle blocking each other in the alleys.
- Provide at least 5 cm of trough space per cow in
systems where cattle are confined for 24 hours/day
– with at least two points for every group of cows.
A shaded circular concrete trough positioned
at the end of the dairy
This rectangular concrete trough runs
alongside the feedpad.
Keys to success
- AVOID RUNNING black
the ground, as water will become hot before
reaching the watering point.
- LARGE VOLUME
keep drinking water cool.
- LOCATE TROUGHS in
- USE HIGH-PRESSURE
that allow rapid refilling of water troughs.
- DESIGN TO cater for
increased demand in
- CONSIDER FUTURE
in herd size
or changes to farm layout.
- LOCATE SO that
- DESIGN AND locate
allow easy, frequent
- MANAGE MANURE build