Summer Has Arrived – Mind The Water Supply


I never thought a dive in the stock tank could feel better. Yesterday was a hot one and today will only be worse. Folks summer has arrived in Arkansas. The 7-day shows lows 73-74 and highs 95-98 all week-long. I have never been to a sauna, but I have a feeling those of us in the South know what it feels like. Ya start the day off sweating and the only relief is when the relative humidity drops as the temps rise (relative being the key word here).

I snapped this photo of the thermometer in my pickup. It first read 125 before I pulled out the phone. Obviously this reading is a lil off, but it sure reminds me things could be worse. I could be in Arizona where temps above the century mark are common occurrence during Summer months, or I could be in Texas where ranchers are still dealing with droughts and remanents of recent wild fires. We have water here in Arkansas, the ponds got a good flushing this Spring and the grass got a good start this year. Now the heat has arrived just in time for hay season.

With all this heat it’s super important to keep ourselves hydrated, as well as our livestock a plentiful, fresh supply of water. It’s easy to overlook water needs for Pistol who rides in the bed of the pickup all day. Our cattle and horses have several water sources in the pastures: ponds, creeks, streams, and even automatic fresh water tanks. But have you ever considered exactly how much water these livestock drink each day?

The answer is not as easy as ABC, but this page from North Dakota State does a good job of starting the conversation. Water requirements obviously vary for different species, but water requirements increase with work load, pregnancy status, higher feed intake, certain types of diet, and environmental stresses.

Water Requirements for Different Species

Humans – 0.5 gal

Working Horses – 12-18 gal

Lactating Cows – 16-19 gal

Working Dog – 0.2 gal

These above figures are just bases to start from. Get into days like this with a heat index close to the century mark and I guarantee you I’ll be drinking much more than a half gallon of water before noon. Did you know a gallon of water weighs just over 8 pounds?

How do you keep yourself, pets, and livestock with a fresh supply of water when the mercury rises?

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About Ryan Goodman (987 Articles)
Ryan Goodman lives in Helena, MT and comes from an Arkansas cattle ranching family. Since growing up on a family cow/calf and stocker-calf operation, he has spent the last several years learning about farming systems across the country. A graduate of Oklahoma State, Ryan is currently working on a Master's degree from the University of Tennessee. He works continuously to share his story of ranch life through community outreach and social media, all while encouraging others in agriculture to do the same.

2 Comments on Summer Has Arrived – Mind The Water Supply

  1. Great post Ryan. I’d like to know how they come up with the numbers though. I had one horse that after a long day with only a few places with water, would drink a 30 gallon water trough dry. I go through at least two gallons of water a day this time of year (and that doesn’t count the ice tea).

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    • Bob, good question. My best guess is those numbers come from nutritional requirements in a test environment. Of course they don’t cover all cases (like a horse that’s been hard at work or people who are in the 97 degree heat in a hay field all day), but I’d say they are a pretty good place to start.

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