Water is needed by the animal in order to keep its body at a relatively stable temperature. It keeps the body cool through the production and evaporation of sweat.
Water is also necessary for digestion and absorption of feed, and aids in the hydrolysis of nutrients like carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
On this World Water Day, we acknowledge the role that water plays in animals’ lives and why it is important to water our animals everyday and in the right intervals.
As animal welfare enthusiasts, we are aware that water is one of the basics for animals, as stipulated in the freedom from hunger and thirst. No animal should go without water for whatever reasons, and it is our role as humans to ensure that the animals have access to safe water to drink.
What is the role of water in an animal’s body?
- Water is necessary for digestion and absorption of feed, and aids in the hydrolysis of nutrients like carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
- Water maintains the proper ion balance in body tissues as it is a neutral solvent, and readily encourages the ionization of most substances.
- Water helps to transport products like metabolites, hormones and gases throughout the body.
- Water aids in the elimination of waste products, through urine and faeces.
- Water also acts as a lubricant and support for joints and organs
The link between water intake and Growth
A direct link has been established between the amount of water that an animal consumes, the corresponding amount of feed that it eats, and the rate of weight gain. Poor water intake leads to poor feed intake, and consequently a poor growth rate.
Withholding water, or supplying water of poor quality will have an overall negative impact on the profitability of a farm, as the growth rate, milk production, and general health status of the herd decreases.
What Should We consider When Giving Water to Animals?
Ensure that water is free from contaminants like toxins, heavy metals, mineral salts and agricultural waste, among others. It should be noted that if the animal’s feed or water contains a large amount of salt, the animal may try to compensate by consuming excess amounts of water in order to get rid of the excess minerals.
Drinking water should be free from microbial contamination. Bacteria and other microbes can be toxic to livestock, and the consumption thereof may lead to problems like infertility and reproductive issues, diseases like foot-rot, and decreased milk production. For this reason drinking water should not be left to stagnate.
Ensure that the water is readily available and at an acceptable temperature. Livestock are more likely to drink water that is cooler and under shade than water that is not.