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The importance of water in livestock farming

Conservation 082016Water is life, the most important nutrient for all animals, plants, and plays a fundamental role in farming as well. A good water supply system must be in place to supply livestock with adequate water to improve herd production. Water also aids the digestion of food and feeds, assists with the metabolic reaction in feeds, facilitates faecal excretion, improves growth, helps the lubrication of joints, improves eyesight, increases reproduction success and assists in regulating body temperature. When it does not rain, or boreholes malfunction and the farm has no capacity to get water delivered to their farm, it can mean a huge income loss for the farmer. Anyone who sets out to become a farmer must consider the availability of reliable clean water close by to the area they intend establishing the farm.

Setting up a Water Supply at the Farm

An improved water supply can increase milk supply of lactating mothers, improve quality of meat and as such, a good water supply is extremely important for production, health and welfare of livestock. Natural water resources such as lakes, rivers and streams can be utilised, and in the absence of these, water wells and boreholes can be utilised. One should make sure that they supply clean water from reliable sources to avoid any disease outbreaks. The water supply should ideally be located close to kraals since livestock do not like walking long distances to access water. Water must be served in clean water troughs that are of an adequate size to accommodate your herd. Stop-valves and all water point infrastructure should be maintained accordingly in order to minimise water wastage and to prevent injuries to livestock.

Rain Water Harvesting and Storage

With water shortages causing major problems country-wide, it is also important for livestock farmers to try to harvest and store rain water during the rainy season. Rain is a free resource and if captured well and used, can save huge amounts of money in delivering water to livestock. There are many water storage containers that one can afford in order to store rain water for livestock drinking and watering of feed. The United Nations is helping to promote the distribution of low-cost rain water harvesting equipment, in order to promote this practice in southern Africa and Botswana has been named as one of the countries where rain water harvesting can be used to curb water shortages.

Water and Wildlife

Some farmers, especially those who are farming where elephants are present, find that water can be a source of conflict between farmers and wildlife. In areas devoid of natural surface water, agricultural water points can lure in large carnivores and elephants, bringing them into close proximity to people and livestock. Experimental trials in Ngamiland have seen agricultural water points being paired with wildlife waterholes, in order to provide wildlife with an alternative water source. This tactic helps to keep wildlife at a distance from cattle posts, helping to reduce livestock depredation, threats to humans and damage caused to water point infrastructure. If you are having problems with wildlife using your water troughs, adding a wildlife waterhole nearby may help to curb some of these problems.

For more information on effective livestock management and non-lethal predator control to reduce predator conflict and facilitate coexistence, feel free to contact us at +267 3500613, +267 5881132, +267 6511596 or visit our website at


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