It’s smart to look after water supply
Adequate access to troughs will allow cows to get sufficient water when they want it. If paddocks share a trough, there can be value in putting in additional troughs with unrestricted access.
‘‘Water is an essential resource for dairy farming,’’ said Wayne Berry.
‘‘All farmers should be working to use it efficiently and minimise water losses on their farm.’’
As an experienced dairy farm owner and DairyNZ consulting officer, Mr Berry strives to practise what he preaches.
He has put in systems to improve water use on his own farm and he encourages others to do the same.
‘‘Water loss out on the farm can be a real headache,’’ said Mr Berry. ‘‘So it’s a topic we always consider.’’ A key is having the right combination of volume and pressure – a system that suits the farm and herd size.
Factors to consider include water pressure/pump capacity, size of delivery lines, size and placement of troughs, and flow rate through (low maintenance) valves.
The goal is for cows to get sufficient water when they want it.
To help achieve this, adequate access to troughs is crucial.
If troughs are under fence lines serving adjoining paddocks, there is real value in adding another trough out in the open in each paddock.
Once you decide on a float arm or string for the valve system, keep them in good repair. For durability, fencing wire is a good alternative to string.
Covering trough valves will help prevent damage by stock.
Establishing a regular routine to check troughs, valves and lines when bringing the cows out of a paddock is another good preventive measure. Minerals in water will naturally clog up valves, however, so they will need a periodic check and clean.
Simple water-loss alerts for the reticulation include a pressure gauge or water-flow indicator on the lines, a pilot light on the pump, or even just the rhythm of an in-line dispenser.
For pressure gauges, you can mark on the gauge (or put a sign by it) the typical pressure so all staff are aware and can watch for change.
‘‘Every farmer has a pet water line, one that leaks regularly and has lots of joiners on it,’’ said Mr Berry.
‘‘The simple solution for these is to replace them.’’
When it comes to fixing leaks, appropriately-placed isolation taps (clearly marked with a bright colour) make it easier to shut off water to allow repair. These taps should also be marked on a farm map detailing the water system – and the map posted so all staff are familiar with the setup.
For water loss in underground lines, putting an air compressor on the line will enable you to hear and find a leak.
When considering these various options, Mr Berry has one final bit of advice. ‘‘Every farm is different,’’ he said.
‘‘What works on one farm, might not suit another. The key is to draw on methods that are right for your situation.’’
For more information, check out dairynz.co.nz/smartwateruse.
Water is an essential resource for dairy farming.