Water is the most important nutrient and vital to ensuring the health of your livestock remains consistent. Bringing stocker cattle into a new area is stressful, but it is imperative that intake to water is not restricted due to cattle being uncomfortable or having poor access in their new surroundings.
We often focus on feed intake instead of water intake, but research has shown the two are related. A focus on water intake can be used to get calves started on feed faster. In studies by Texas Tech University, high-stressed cattle that were offered water only for the first 6 to 8 hours after arrival at the feedlot and then given feed, consumed more feed the first day than cattle offered feed followed by water 6 to 8 hours later.
To promote water intake use these tips:
Use shallow pens or a temporary fence across the pen to keep new cattle close to water tanks and feed bunks. Facilities should attract and/or force calves to find the water sources.
Some calves are unaccustomed to drinking from automatic waterers. Consider adding stock tanks to receiving pens.
To help calves find the tank, let water run over providing noise. This will attract the animals to the tank.
Waterers should be kept clean, fresh and at the proper temperature. Routine cleaning and maintenance should eliminate algae, waste feed and other dirt from building up in waterers.