Don't Let Your Pets be Thirsty!
Most foods are mixtures of compounds, some fairly simple and others very complex.
The simplest compound in that animals ingest is water, which is present in all animal foods, and varies in extent from about 10 to 20% in dry foods like cereals and roughages to 70 - 90% in succulent foods like grass, silage, cabbage and other green crops.
Water is essential for all plant and animal growth and metabolism. To build up one part of dry matter, a plant transpires up to 1000 parts of water. Neither plants nor animals can make use of any food until it has been made completely soluble.
About two-thirds of the weight of the body of an animal consists of water, and some animal products are very rich in water. Milk, for example, contains about 87.5% water, while eggs contain about 66% water. Water is essential for the formation of blood, digestive juices, and all the other body fluids. A starving animal may lose nearly all its glycogen and fat, half of it's body protein, and about 40% of it's body weight and still live. The loss of 10% of its water will cause serious disturbances in the body, while the loss of 20% of it's water will cause death.
Water can be consumed directly by animals or as moisture contained in succulent feed.
Different animals require different amounts of water. Horses for instance may need 50 litres a day; but dogs only a fraction of that amount
Animals should have access to water at all times but, if this is not possible, they should be taken to water at least once a day. Some animals (eg. cattle) can survive by drinking every other day, but this should happen only in an emergency. Young animals and pets should have access to clean water at all times.
Factors Affecting Water Intake
There are a number of factors which affect the water intake of livestock and these are:
a) The Dry Matter Intake
Water consumption increases with feed intake so that an animal will eat the maximum amount of food when it has a good supply of water. This is particularly important with livestock being fattened in pens.
b) The Nature of the Feed
A high water intake is associated with high levels of concentrate feed stuffs which tend to be dry. Animals eating a large amount of succulent feed will drink less water.
c) The Level of Salt Intake
A high level of minerals, particularly salt, in the food will increase water consumption by cattle. In some areas the water itself contains mineral salts which make it alkaline or brackish. The maximum safe level of salts in drinking water is about 1.5% and, if necessary animals become used to drinking such water (sea water contains about 3% mineral salts).
d) Air Temperature
Water intake by cattle increases as the temperature rises, especially when the air temperature rises above 20 degrees C.
e) Water Temperature
Water intake is affected by the temperature of the water available to the animal. Animals will drink less if the water is very cold or very warm. Wherever possible, water troughs should be placed in the shade.
f) Production Cycle
Lactating animals (animals suckling their young) require more water than dry animals. Animals that are producing (meat, milk, eggs) require more water than those on a maintenance diet. Highly productive animals are usually fed a diet that is high in concentrates.
You may also be interested in....