THIS year has proven to be a challenging one for many Victorian producers with some areas in drought, while other regions across the state are experiencing dry seasonal conditions.
The below-average rainfall and warmer-thanaverage days and nights has probably prompted a stocktake of current water storage levels on your farm. No doubt you’ll be in the process of looking at what options are available to you for watering your livestock over summer.
It is important to assess your current water supplies, then compare this total to your livestock and other farm water needs to ultimately identify strategies to get you through the hotter months of the year.
There are various ways you can conduct a stocktake of your current water supplies, however to simplify the process you can use an easy online tool such as the Farm Water Calculator, found at go.vic.gov.au/ g21GIn.
This tool will walk you through the different aspects of a farm and quickly determine how much water you need and can capture and store, says Christopher Blore, Land Management and Livestock Extension Officer with Agriculture Victoria.
“Once you have an estimate of your current farm water storage levels, the next step is to estimate how much water is needed for each component of your farm – be it livestock, the house or water for spraying and firefighting,” Mr Blore said.
“Water requirements for livestock can vary significantly depending on species and age.
“For example, beef cattle require up to 100 litres per head per day in summer while weaners need around 55 litres per head per day.”
Knowing your livestock’s water requirements will help you manage your water supplies now and into the future.
Management of farm water supplies will vary between farms, some properties may have good quality bores established or access to water courses (where they can pump water from) while others may have large farm dams or roof capture they can utilise.
Other farms may have no options other than to cart water, however in the long term this is unlikely to be viable due to the cost and strain on resources.
Now is the time for producers to assess the livestock capacity of their farms to ensure they have enough water to supply their herd/mob.
While not having sufficient water is an issue in drought or dry times, which may lead to a decision to cart water or reduce stock numbers, understanding the quality of the water you can utilise is just as important.
If you are considering drilling bores, pumping from a water course or carting water, it is recommended that you contact your relevant Catchment Management Authority (CMA) or Rural Water Authority to ensure you understand your legal requirements.
The quality of the water that stock can access is important as it can significantly affect productivity, particularly in drought or dry times.
Common issues such as salinity will begin to affect beef cattle production at 4000mg/l (ppm).
Beyond this point production is affected resulting in loss of appetite, diarrhoea and increased urination.
Further symptoms of high levels of salt is general weakness, muscular tremors, rapid loss of condition, and eventual paralysis with the possibility of coma and death.