Water Requirement of Agricultural Livestock

All animals need water to survive and stay healthy. Therefore, it is considered the most crucial feed for all agricultural livestock. Water is essential for many vital bodily functions, such as regulating body temperature, transporting nutrients and waste, maintaining cell pressure, and producing milk in dairy cows.

The water requirement is primarily dependent on water loss through urine (kidneys), feces (intestines), and exhaled air (lungs). Adequate water intake is particularly important in warm temperatures or when animals have increased activity, as they need more water to stay sufficiently hydrated. The amount of water animals need per day also depends on other factors such as age, weight, or diet.

Signs of inadequate water supply develop gradually and are often not immediately associated with water deficiency. Indications, especially in high temperatures, may include reduced feed intake, decreasing milk production, and declining milk components in dairy cows.


The water intake for cattle typically lasts about half a minute, with an intake of approximately 18 to 25 liters of water per minute. This process repeats around 9 times on average per day, though variations can be quite large, ranging from 5 to 26 times.

For cattle, the approximate water requirement is 3 to 6 liters per kilogram of dry matter intake. Guidelines for cattle’s water intake can also be determined based on the ambient temperature. For example, a calf weighing 90 kg needs 9 liters per day at 15 degrees Celsius and 13 liters per day at 28 degrees Celsius. A cow weighing 630 kg would thus require 46 liters per day at 15 degrees Celsius and 62 liters at 28 degrees Celsius (Source: DLG Information Sheet 399, Water Supply for Cattle).


The average water requirement for pigs is approximately 80 to 120ml/kg of live weight (Source: DLG Information Sheet 351, Drinking Systems for Pigs). This means, for example, that suckling piglets under 9 kg need 0.7 to 1 liter per day, finishing pigs between 50 and 80 kg need 5 to 8.5 liters per day, and lactating sows require 15 liters plus 1.5 liters per piglet per day.

However, the actual water intake varies significantly in different growth or husbandry stages. The type of drinking system and water flow also influence water consumption.

We are happy to assist you in selecting the appropriate drinking system for optimal water supply to your animals. Additionally, we are available for custom solutions.