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In 2019 Meath based farmer installed a new water system on his farm and now reaps that benefits.


Providing enough quality water is essential for good livestock husbandry and welfare. Understanding livestock watering needs is paramount to designing a good watering system.

One farmer who ran into some issues during the drought of 2018 was Diarmuid Connell – a dairy farmer from Kells, Co. Meath. Diarmuid’s herd of 60 cows graze on a milking platform consisting of 60ac, while another 40ac – located a short distance from the milking block – are used for silage.

In 2019, the Meath-based farmer installed in a new water system on the farm, with advice from his Glanbia Ireland Business Manager and local branch in Athboy Co. Meath. “I have invested in a water system due to a number of factors which occurred last year [during the 2018 drought],” Diarmuid said in this video below, which was filmed in 2019.

“During the dry summer, I had issues with stock becoming stressed which led to the possibility of salmonella; I also had fertility issues and a drop in yield,” he added. With expansion or a change to the system in mind, Diarmuid opted for inch-and-a-half piping which he purchased from his local Glanbia branch. This system provides enough volume and pressure to supply water to his furthest away paddocks and can be easily extended should the need arise.

“I was able to put in this system adjacent to the old system, so disruption to the herd was non-existent,” he explains. In a relatively short period after installation, Diarmuid saw an increase in yield, while fertility levels increased during the spring period.

Touching on the cost of the system, Diarmuid said: “Having done the figures, I think I will have the system payed for in three short years. “I would recommend it to any farmer going forward. I think it’s great for peace of mind – never mind from the cost point of view; it’s definitely worth investing in.”

In addition, he said: “Even with the recent dry spell in 2020, I’ve been milking five cows less, but producing the same amount of milk and there is no stress in the herd. “I couldn’t be happier with the investment I made last year and I’m in a much better position to manage a drought,” he concluded.


What Makes A Good Water System?

“If the summer of 2018 taught us anything, it was the importance of a consistent water supply. This is particularly important when it comes down to herd health, production and overall welfare of animals,” explained Glanbia business manager, Ed Colgan.

Dairy cows, in milk, require 100-120L of water per day. When grass dry matter (DM) is high, in-milk cows may have to drink over 80% of their water requirement (the balance may be met from forage). Cows tend to drink 30-50% of their water requirement within one hour of milking, making accessibility, flow rate and trough capacity critical considerations.

Daily water requirements can be affected by dietary dry matter, environmental and management factors, air temperature, relative humidity, the level of animal exertion and milk output.

For further information on water consumption by dairy cattle check out this article.

Water Access and Trough Capacity

Touching on some of the most common on-farm issues, Ed said: “The most common problems we see on farms are smaller water troughs, small water pipes and insufficient pumps to drive the water, along with reduced flow rates.

“This problem is particularly highlighted when we see farm expansion or changing farm requirements.” Access, flow rate and trough capacity are all critical considerations that we advise farmers to look at. Particularly when faced with challenging dry period.

More Information

To support farmers to manage challenges associated with the recent lack of rainfall, Glanbia Ireland has launched a campaign titled ‘Water Works’.

Through this initiative farmers can get advice on how to best manage their water supplies, along with great-value offers on a range of water solution products – available in branch or online until August 1, 2020.

To view the ‘Water Works’ brochure, just click here.

First Published 18 June 2020

Tagged with: Dairy Beef


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