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Knowing the water requirements of dairy ewes

Solution name: Knowing the water requirements of dairy ewes

Aim: Be aware of how much water ewes drink daily in order to adjust what’s made available

Description:

Water meters were installed in a dozen farms rearing Lacaune sheep with the goal to estimate the quantity of water animals of different categories consume (lactating ewes, pregnant ewes, ewe lambs).

This study required two types of feed, dry and wet feed. The first measurements were carried out during winter and summer to assess the impact of the temperature on the production.

The following results give an idea of animals’ daily consumptions:

Adult ewes

As expected, the level of consumption greatly varies according to the ewes’ physiological stage. Winter: the ewes producing more milk than the others (a minimum of 2L/day) and receiving a dry feed ration can drink up to 10L of water per day. A pregnant ewe could drink around 4L/day. Ewes given wet feed drink around 1.5 litres less.

Summer: the effect of the production level is still noticeable, but the temperature also deeply impacts the water consumption of animals, especially those on dry feed. A difference of almost 1.5 litres of water consumed per day was observed between temperatures below 20°C and above 30°C, for an average daily production of 1 litre.

 

Replacement ewe lambs

The amount of water consumed by ewe lambs depends on their size and age. From the moment they start drinking water, they consume about 1.5L/day. Their daily intake increases after 100 days, settles at around 2.5L/day, and does not evolve before their first lambing.

In summary

Adult ewes – dry feed ration

 

Winter

Summer

Water consumption

Gestating

Lactating

 

Gestating

Lactating

 

 

 

MP < 2L/day

MP > 2L/day

T°C < 20

T°C > 30

T°C < 20

T°C > 30

1/day

4

 7

10

2

4

2.5 to 5

4 to 6

 

Adult ewes – wet feed ration

 

Winter

Summer

Water consumption

Gestating

Lactating

 

Gestating

Lactating

 

 

 

MP < 2L/day

MP > 2L/day

T°C < 20

T°C > 30

T°C < 20

T°C > 30

1/day

2.8

6

7

2

3.5

4 to 5

 

Replacement ewe lambs

Water consumption

Before 100 days

From 100 days until lambing

1/day

1.5

2.5

(adapted and simplified from Roussel et al, 2012, Casdar Eau)

 

How to implement it: Being aware of this information can help farmers calculate their animals’ water needs – depending on the groups and animal categories – and adapt the amount of water made available when necessary (high temperatures). New water troughs may have to be installed, or at least removable ones in case of heatwaves. 

 

Topic: Nutrition

Production:  Dairy

Animal Category: Adult, Replacement

Issue: Knowledge of nutrition requirements

Level of Solution: Practical

Country: France

 

 

 

 

 

Expected benefits

Expected benefits: Implementing this solution should prevent a decrease in milk production due to water deficient ewes

Prerequisites and/or limits: Existing facilities might have to be converted and temporary equipement may need to be renwed on a regular basis

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