Water for Georgia's Livestock*

Mark Masters
Flint River Water Policy Center
Albany State University, Albany, GA

(UGA Photo/Jay Oliver)
In counties and planning regions where there are substantial quantities of animals, their water needs should be included in any planning for future water use. As planners in the Water Councils heard presentations about agricultural demand for irrigation water, many asked, "What about animal water use?" To address this question in a consistent manner across livestock interests and regions, an ad hoc team of experts was pulled together to estimate animal water use in current farming operations. While this group did not predict numbers of animals that would be using water use in future use, they did determine aggregate water use in each livestock sector for each county and planning region. Participants included representatives from the Water Councils, The Georgia Farm Bureau, Georgia Cooperative Extension Service, Georgia Milk Producers, Inc., and the Georgia Poultry Federation. Data was assembled at the Flint River Water Policy Center.
*Includes Non-Permitted Uses: State regulations require that farmers who withdraw more than 100,000 gpd from streams and aquifers obtain a permit from the Environmental Protection Division. While that limit means that most field irrigation withdrawals fall into the permit category, the opposite is true for livestock watering and other animal-related water uses. Excepted in larger confinement systems or dairies, most farms and farmers use less than 100,000 gallons per day supplying water needs for animals.
Data Set: Livestock Water Use.
County-by-county record of annual water use by various sectors of animal agriculture.
(Excel file - last update 11/30/2009)


PROCEDURES:

Beef Cattle, Goats, Sheep and Horses

Total annual water use was calculated by multiplying the total number of animals (head) by the estimated daily water use per head by 365 days. Total head per county data for 2008 was compiled by Mark Masters (ASU Flint River Water Policy Center) using the Georgia Statistics System operated by the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development. Daily water use per head was compiled by Mark Risse (UGA Biological and Agricultural Engineering) and estimated as follows:
  • Beef Cattle 15 gallons per day (gpd)/head
  • Goats 2.5 gpd/head
  • Sheep 2.5 gpd/head
  • Horses 12 gpd/head
It was assumed that drinking water was the only requirement that contributed to total use. An estimate from the higher end of the range found in the literature was used to account for losses such as leaks and evaporation.


(UGA Photo/John Amis)

(UGA Photo/John Amis)
Swine

Total annual water use was calculated by multiplying the total head per county by the estimated daily water use per head by 365 days. Total head per county data for 2008 was compiled by Mark Masters using the Georgia Statistics System operated by the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development. Daily water use per head was compiled by Mark Risse. Unfortunately, it is difficult to know exactly what the total head county numbers are based on. On a farrow to finish operation, there would be a lot more feeder pigs than sows. A low end drinking water requirement for a sow was used to account for this since it is assumed the total number of pigs is probably biased toward more feeder size pigs than sows.
  • Drinking 3 gpd/head
  • Cooling/building wash 1 gpd (these are closed cooling systems usually)
  • Waste Management 25 gpd (assumes much lower use of recycled water)
  • 5% for losses such as leaks/evaporation/etc.
  • Total Use 30 gpd/head
Dairy

Total annual water use was calculated by multiplying the total head per county by the estimated daily water use per head by 365 days. Total head per county and estimated daily water use per head information was compiled by the Georgia Milk Producers, Inc. in coordination with local dairy producers throughout Georgia.:
  • Cow Drinking 40 gpd/head
  • Cow Cooling 33 gpd/head
  • Milk Equipment Washing 5 gpd/head
  • Parlor Flushing (freshwater portion) 30 gpd/head
  • Feed Equipment Cleaning 3 gpd/head
  • Total Use 111 gpd/head
In addition, water use per head for heifers was estimated at 15 gpd/head. Total number of heifers was assumed to be 90% of total number of cows.


(UGA Photo/John Amis)
Poultry

Total annual water use was calculated by multiplying the total head per county by the estimated daily water use per head by 365 days. Total head per county (broilers only) was based on the 2007 USDA Census of Agriculture. Daily water use per head (0.68 gpd) was estimated from a number of representative broiler houses by Brian Fairchild (UGA Extension Poultry Science). Water consumption includes both bird and evaporative cooling water usage. It is assumed that a farm will have birds on site 285 days of the year assuming 5.5 flocks per year with 14 day downtime between flocks.

(UGA Photo/Stephen Morton)

(UGA Photo/John Amis)


Last updated 02/02/2010 James E. Hook
Links reconfirmed 11/7/2012 JEH