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Water: The #1 Forgotten Nutrient

Water: The #1 Forgotten Nutrient

We spend every day thinking about, talking about, and getting excited about nutrients. However, we have noticed over the years that one nutrient in particular goes unnoticed or unmentioned in conversation: Water.

Clean, cool water is critical for animal health and performance, as it aids in nutrient transportation, chemical reactions, temperature regulation, and much more within the body. Without a sufficient amount of water, an animal’s body undergoes severe stress—resulting in poor performance of bodily functions. For this reason, we recommend providing multiple water sources for your livestock and replenishing as needed to maintain quality and availability.

As a general rule, provide a minimum of 5-6 gallons of water per 100 birds and a minimum of 2-3 gallons of water per 100lb of body weight for other livestock. You may need to increase that amount if your environmental conditions warrant doing so. Just as certain nutrients need to be managed and offered differently seasonally, water needs to be presented and encouraged differently throughout the year.

Summer Sips

During the spring and summer, you’ll notice that your water tanks, buckets or troughs become depleted much more quickly than when it’s cold. This is because of evaporation and increased intake. Always keep an eye on the levels and temperatures of your animals’ water sources.

As your animal management resume grows longer, you’ll learn fun tricks for keeping your animals hydrated during warm seasons. For instance, you may try freezing water (sometimes with apple slices or carrot shreds) in up-cycled 32oz yogurt containers and adding the giant “ice cubes” to horses’ water troughs or buckets. This keeps the water cool and can add a tasty flair to the water to encourage drinking. If you have poultry, you can try adding apple cider vinegar to a water source, as it stimulates the microflora in the gastrointestinal tract, which improves feed efficiency and provides an energy boost. If you add treats to a water source for any animal, we recommend also offering a second source with just plain water, as some individuals are pickier than others and may want unflavored water.

Winter Drips

Keeping fresh water available to your animals during plummeting temperatures and winter weather can be an uphill battle. Frozen, inaccessible water can create a sometimes fatal scenario for livestock. We recommend using water heaters, insulated containers, and frequent replenishing during winter months to keep water temperatures palatable and accessible for your animals. If you use an electric water heater, be sure that the device does not short-out or shock your animals while they drink. If you have an automatic waterer, check the functionality of it twice daily. Sometimes they don’t work as planned, and they may freeze—resulting in either frozen-solid water, or a busted pipe that leaks.

Electrolytes

Another way to stimulate drinking year-round is offering electrolytes or salt blocks to your herd or flock. We carry a broad spectrum of products to help with this! Redmond Natural Trace Mineral Salt can be offered free choice in both a rock or block form or loose in a pan. There are also specialty salts by Redmond that contain added selenium or garlic to meet unique nutritional or pest control needs. If you travel with horses or have a finicky drinker, you may also give Redmond Rein Water a try!

New Country Organics Healthy Minerals also contain salt, along with other vitamins and minerals. Healthy Minerals are available for cattle, goats, sheep, and horses. Offering Healthy Minerals to your livestock gives them essential micro- and macronutrients, as well as pest protection with ingredients like diatomaceous earth and organic garlic.

Have questions about which product would best suit your needs? Drop us a line!

May 13, 2021
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