Stock Water

The amount of water an animal requires will depend on a number of factors including:

  • the class of animal
  • the temperature and season (livestock consume more water in summer and during warmer weather)
  • the feed on offer (stock will drink more on dry feed such as grains, hay and dead pasture than on feeds with higher water content)
  • the quality of the water (water with higher salt levels will increase consumption)

Stock do best on water that is fresh, cool and clean. Water should be low in salt, low in organic matter, low in suspended clay and free of other toxic substances, such as blue green algae.

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Stock water requirements litres/animal/day

Stock type Consumption (litres/animal/day)
  Summer Average daily
Sheep    
Weaners 6 4
Adult dry sheep 10 6
Ewes with lambs 14 10
Beef Cattle    
Weaner (250–300 kg) 70 Up to 55
Adult Dry stock 112 Up to 80
Horses (grazing) 49 35

Salinity tolerance levels for stock water

Type of Livestock   EC (µS/cm) Mg/L (ppm)  
Beef cattle Production decline begins* 6,250 4,000  
  Maximum level** 15,600 10,000  
Lactating ewes and weaners Production decline begins* 6,000 3,800  
  Maximum level** 10,000 6,400  
 
Dry mature sheep Production decline begins* 9,300 6,000  
  Maximum level** 21,800 14,000  

* Production decline begins = upper limit salt concentration for healthy growth.

** Maximum = maximum salt concentration that may be safe for limited periods.

Further information?

  • Check out Agriculture Victoria’s web page: How long will my dam water last?
  • Find an accredited water testing facility National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA).
  • Read more on Managing Farm Water Supplies on Agriculture Victoria web page.