Ensuring Cattle Hydration in Summer: Expert Tips from K-State’s Beef Cattle Institute

By Trish Svoboda

With hot summer days ahead, cattle out on pasture rely on clean, accessible water for good health as experts from K-State’s Beef Cattle Institute discussed on a recent Cattle Chat podcast.

K-State beef cattle nutritionist, Philip Lancaster said that cows that eat dry hay need to consume more water than cattle that eat fresh grass. In the summer, he estimates cows need about two gallons of water for every 100 pounds of body weight. He said calves also need water to aid in digestion.

Ponds are one source of water for cattle on pastures. K-State Research and Extension fisheries specialist Joe Gerkin said, “When the water quality is important, it is best to keep the cattle out of the ponds by fencing them out and piping the water to a tank. Having a pipe that runs through an earthen dam regulates the temperature so the cattle will want to drink more.”

He also said another option is to limit access to the pond by fencing cattle out except for a gravel path to an area of the pond. Depending on the herd size, a path with a width of 20-40 feet is sufficient. The cattle will linger less due to the way the gravel feels on their hooves. Another bonus is the gravel helps keep sediment from filling the pond. “With this system, the pond can be healthy, and the cattle can still get the benefits they need from it,” Gerken said.

Sign up for the KCLY Digital Newspaper, The Regional