University of Kentucky College of Agriculture

Welcome to the Master Grazer Educational Program

-an educational program to improve grazing practices in beef, dairy, goat and sheep herds


 

Grazing News Articles

Articles on forages, animals, and grazing systems



Additional Resources

 

Beef
Dairy
Goat
Sheep
Forages
Extension Publications

 

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Master Grazer Educational Program reports to KY Ag Development Fund Board:

2014 1st Quarter Report
2014 2nd Quarter Report
2013 Annual Accomplishments
2013 Third Quarter Report
2012 Annual Accomplishments
2011 Annual Accomplishments


 

 

Contacts


Cody Smith

Master Grazer Coordinator
804 W.P. Garrigus Building
University of Kentucky
Lexington, KY
40546-0215
(859) 257-7512
Fax: (859) 257-3412
E-mail: cody.smith@uky.edu

Faculty Coordinators:


Dr. Ray Smith

Extension Forage Specialist
University of Kentucky
Phone: (859) 257-3358
Fax: (859) 323-1952  
Email: raysmith1@uky.edu

Dr. Donna Amaral-Phillips

Extension Dairy Cattle Specialist
University of Kentucky
Phone: (859) 257-7542
Fax: (859) 257-7537  
Email: damaral@uky.edu

Dr. Jeff Lehmkuhler

Extension Beef Cattle Specialist
University of Kentucky
Phone: (859) 257-2853
Fax: (859) 257-3412  
Email: jeff.lehmkuhler@uky.edu

Dr. Garry Lacefield

Extension Forage Specialist
University of Kentucky
Phone: (270) 365-7541 202 
Fax: (270) 365-2667  
Email: glacefie@uky.edu


 

Importance of Water


Permanent watering pad set up for rotational grazing.

Water is the most important nutrient for animals, and it is essential to ensure that animals have ample access to clean water. Having water available to livestock allows for optimal animal performance and health. Dry matter intake is directly related to water intake, and the less an animal drinks, the less feed it will consume. This leads to reduced weight gains, milk production, and animal performance. Water accounts for 50 to 80 percent of an animal's weight and is involved in every physiological process.


It is vital that there is enough water available for the entire herd during hot weather because water requirements double when temperatures increase from 50° to 95° F. Water quality affects water intake, herd health and performance. Waterers should be cleaned frequently to ensure the water does not become contaminated. During a drought, water quality declines as the concentration of pollutants increases when water evaporates and becomes stagnant. Using city or county water will decrease the likelihood of this happening, but is not always a practical option. Try to avoid contamination of water by microorganisms, suspended solids, and other pollutants. Preventing animals from urinating and defecating in the water source will help reduce disease transmission. Water analysis should be taken if you suspect water is causing a problem or when a new source of water is developed. Quality shouldn’t vary much for springs and wells, but ponds and streams will normally be lowest in quality during late summer.


Sulfate is present in many water sources in Kentucky and is commonly found in the form of calcium, iron, sodium, and magnesium salts. High levels of these salts can make the water taste unpleasant to animals. Sulfates in high concentrations can cause diarrhea and lead to death in some instances. Nitrates in drinking water are rapidly becoming the most predominant water problem for livestock in the southeastern United States. Nitrate is converted into nitrite once digested, and is dangerous to cattle. Excessive nitrate intake may result in a lethargic animal and sudden death. Animals can adapt to higher levels of nitrates if levels are raised gradually, but prolonged exposure either from feed or water may result in lower feed intake, depressed growth rate and abortions. Stagnant waters may contain excessive levels of bluegreen algae, which are toxic and may result in death of animals as well.


It is suggested that water be placed within 800 feet of all areas of the pastures. Having water in ideal locations encourages more uniform grazing, and manure distribution. Normally, only a few animals will drink at a given time if the water is placed within 800 feet of the herd. Drinking will become a “social event” when livestock must walk further distances to water because they will travel as a herd. This behavior causes lounging at the water source, manure buildup, and increased soil compaction. Placing water within 800 feet will reduce travel time to the water source, as well as time standing around water, increasing time spent grazing.


The amount of water an animal needs each day depends upon the animal's size, stage of production, and the average daily temperature. Different species of animals require different amounts of water. Below are two tables that give a few examples of animal requirements. Be sure to keep an adequate amount of clean water available for your animals in order for them to perform well.


Amount of water needed by an animal.
  Water Requirement
(gal/head/day)
Horses
Mature 8 - 12
Brood Mare 8 - 12
Foal to 2-year 6 - 8
Stallion 8 - 12
Pony 6 - 8
Goats
Mature 1 - 3
Lactating 2.5
Sheep
Rams 2
5 - 20lb Lambs .1 - .3
Ewes with Lambs 3
Feeder Lambs 1.5
Source
UK Cooperative Extension Service Publication Housing for Pleasure Horses (ID-57). Meat Goat Nutrition, Langston University. MWPS-3 Sheep housing and Equipment Handbook
Amount of water needed by animal.
  Temperature
  50°F 90°F
  Water Requirement
(gal/head/day)
Beef Cattle
400-lb calves 4 - 7 8 - 15
800-lb calves 8 15 - 18
1000-lb calves 9 - 10 18 - 20
cows and bulls 9 - 14 18 - 27
Dairy Cattle
dry cow 6 8.7
40-lb milk 16 26.5
80-lb milk 26 44.9
Source
MWPS-6 Beef Housing and Equipment Handbook. UK Cooperative Extension Service Publication Pasture for Dairy Cattle: Challenges and Opportunities (ASC-151)