We spend the majority of our days managing rations. We pay close attention to roughage, ensuring it meets the required quality standards. We consider which raw materials or by-products are suitable as supplements, whether to provide loose minerals or offer everything in a mix. Additionally, we need to think about the composition of the supplementary concentrate feed. All these questions and considerations directly impact the ration calculation, or more precisely, the ration approach.
It's noticeable that the most essential and cost-effective ingredient is often overlooked: water! Without sufficient water intake, we observe lower feed consumption, leading to reduced production.
Do you actually measure the daily water intake on your farm? Let's take a closer look: Are the cows and young stock drinking enough water? And what can we say about the quality of that water? Is it from a natural source, or is it simply tap water? In short, what are they drinking, and is it both in sufficient quantity and good quality?
Water Management in Your Barn
Efficient water management in your barn begins with an adequate number of accessible drinking points. Cows should be able to drink without obstacles at any time of the day.
Another essential aspect is ensuring water quality. Contaminants in drinking water can influence taste and odor. Sometimes, we notice cows "lipping" the water due to such impurities. Therefore, it's important to clean water troughs regularly. But what is considered regular, and what is clean?
It even happens that a voltage difference caused by leakage current negatively affects water intake. Leakage current occurs when electrical current unintentionally leaks or is not properly controlled in the drinking water systems or near the water troughs in the barn.
Moisture Content in the Ration
In addition to the actual water the cows consume, the moisture content in the basic ration plays a role. All feed products contain varying levels of moisture, contributing to daily intake.
To stimulate feed consumption, more and more farms are adding water to the diet. This is mainly done with too dry rations and to limit selective eating in mixed rations. This technique involves mixing water with the entire ration or working with a premix in which dry ingredients and water blends are mixed. The latter has the additional advantage that ingredients become available to the cows earlier, as they are already dissolved in the premix.
It is essential to know the moisture content of various (rough) feeds, both to maintain the correct proportions in the diet and to adjust water intake accordingly. An excessively wet ration can also limit feed consumption.
In summary: Give the water in your barn the attention it deserves!
15 March 2023
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