When it comes to winter feeding, the focus usually lands on silage quality and how much meal is required to supplement such forage.

However, do not forget about drinking water.

Cattle should always have a clean supply of fresh drinking water available during the housing period, especially when offered a diet of high dry matter silage and concentrate.

Also, make sure water troughs are large enough that animals can drink freely. Cattle on high levels of concentrate can drink 50 to 60 litres daily.

Smaller troughs with self-filling paddles are fine for a calving or sick pen, but they are not appropriate in sheds with finishing cattle.

A telltale sign of slow-filling troughs or inadequate water supply is cattle queuing for a drink.

Clean regularly

Where drinking troughs have become soiled with silage or dung, they should be cleaned out immediately.

Check the cleanliness of water troughs every few days. If water is not crystal clear, clean it out.

If troughs are not cleaned out, water intake and, ultimately, feed intake will drop.

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