Water is an essential nutrient and second in importance only to oxygen to sustain life in dairy cattle, according to a Michigan State University report. But just having access to water is not enough. In fact, water quality should be as important as that of a feedstuff. Yet proteins, minerals, and vitamins often gain more attention.
Water quality has direct effects on its acceptability to dairy cattle and sometimes the animal’s digestive and physiological functions, the report notes. While water’s odor and taste may be apparent, physical and chemical properties, toxic compounds and concentration of minerals may not.
Bottom line, testing water is a fundamental part of the process in meeting the nutritional needs of livestock and poultry.
For more information about the importance of water quality, read: “The Most Essential Nutrient: Water” by Dr. David K Beede of the Department of Animal Science, Michigan State University. The report emphasizes basic information about water nutrition of cows and calves, predicting water intake and requirements, evaluation of water quality, factors affecting water intake, and the practical aspects and assessment of water nutrition management in dairy farms.