Water is an important nutrient in animal nutrition and without it they cannot survive. There are different sources of water which include drinking water, metabolic and feed moisture content that are available to animals.
Functions of water include:
- Water helps in excretion of waste products from the body;
- It help in aid digestion process of carbohydrates, fats and protein;
- It helps in absorption of digested nutrients;
- It regulates body temperature;
- It aids transportation of metabolites within the body;
- It makes feed to be soft and palatable
Symptoms of water deprivation include :
- Increasing respiration rate;
- Increased body temperature;
- Incoordinated movement and loss of stamina;
Most farmers do not take into cognisance the quality of water given to their animals which has direct impact on performance, health status and feed conversion efficiency of the animals.
The water consumption of animals is twice feed consumption and water intake depends of age, growth, breed
Water that has high bacterial level, chemical pollutants and minerals is detrimental to the overall wellbeing of the animals.
Good water management is essential for successful livestock business and farmer should send water samples to the laboratory for analysis.
The following are the qualities of water that is healthy for animals consumption:
- No Bacterial Contamination- fecal contamination through erosion can contaminate the water source. The bacterial level of good water must be Zero.
- Physical Presentation- has to do with colour, taste and odour of the water. Water must be clear, tasteless and odourless.
- Less Turbid- high turbidity results into poor palatability, water must contain a very low level of clay, silt and organic materials. Levels of turbidity must be less than 5 ppm for the water to be considered fit for animal’s consumption.
- pH- water that is lightly acidic is good for animal consumption as it help to maintain healthy gut. pH of 5 – 6.5 is ideal.
- Water Hardness- affects effectiveness of antibiotics, disinfectants, vaccines and other chemicals.
The above factors influence the quality of water greatly and that is why farmers must analyse water at least once or twice in a year to ascertain water quality standard of every livestock kept.
Good drainage system must be one the farm and litter disposal should should be done a separate land so that the water source will not be contaminated. Water sanitizers can be used to treat water frequently and it can be withdrawn 24 hours before vaccination.
Farmers must know that the quality of water can affect livestock performance negatively as it can lead to poor gut health, poor immunity and affect overall performance of livestock.