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This NebGuide stresses the importance to the dairy cow of water, an essential but often overlooked nutrient.
Providing insufficient water or water of poor quality to dairy cattle can limit milk production and growth, and can cause health problems. An adequate supply of clean water promotes normal rumen function, high feed intake, digestion and nutrient absorption. Water also maintains blood volume, supplies tissue needs, and makes up about 87 percent of the milk secreted by the cow. The following sections discuss water intake and requirements, water quality and guidelines for proper use of cattle waterers.