Cow Water Consumption

Animal/Crop water needs: Give an example of water consumption by one type of livestock or one type of crop:

One type of livestock that consumes a significant quantity of water, proves to be cows. It is interesting to note however, that the amount of water consumed, varies significant depending on the age, sex, weight, and weather conditions present for the cow. Cows consume an average of 3 to 30 gallons of water per day. While this is just a general range, effective water consumption can be calculated by adding 1 gallon of water per 100 pounds of the cow during cold weather, and 2 gallons per 100 pounds during hot weather. On a national scale (measuring the United States as a whole), the amount of water usage necessary to produce 1 pound of beef, proves to be an estimated 1,799 gallons of water. Compare this with 576 gallons of water for 1 pound of pork, 216 gallons for 1 pound of soybeans and 108 gallons for 1 pound of corn, one can deduce that the production of beef requires enormous quantities of water consumption. This can be accredited too the size of cows in comparison to other live stock; as bigger animals require larger water intake, yet also have more inedible parts (such as bone) so producing one pound of edible flesh requires numerous cows. While this water usage is quite large, it is a tad misleading because an estimated 88% of the water needed in cows in obtained through lactation or the milk they drink daily. Nonetheless however, the water usage required for livestock is a far larger quantity than most, if not all other agricultural processes.

Meat’s large water footprint: why raising livestock and poultry for meat is so resource-intensive

5 thoughts on “Cow Water Consumption

  1. It’s crazy to think livestock requires the most water out of all of those processes. But at the same time, a lot of the other agricultural process contribute to the well being of the livestock (food, water, ect.). But I can’t imagine consuming 30 gallons of water a day. I know some cows are huge, but 30 gallons still seems extreme. Overall, I found this article and the information you provided to be very interesting and even eye opening.

  2. I really liked how you broke down how water is used with cow beef production. I always knew that beef production required gallons on gallons of water, but have you break down and provide explanation of how the size of the cow (obviously) influences amount of water consumed, but also how more than one cow is required to get one pound of meat.

  3. I knew that the factory farm industry was very hurtful to the environment regarding greenhouse gases like CO2 and CH4, but I did not know how much water actually gets used and wasted in this industry. I liked how you compared it to other animals and broke the information up into numbers that were easier to put into perspective.

  4. Thank you for highlighting a very important topic and finding the numbers to back up this fact. Although, after doing this research and sharing it with the class, how many of us will try to cut down on our beef consumption once we leave the classroom? I’m worried these important discussions and actions will be nothing more than talk and numbers.

  5. As someone who loves a good burger, this post startled me a bit. I knew cows had to consume water out of basic necessity, but I had no idea the extent to which they do. 1,800 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef is truly astounding. That means for your average quarter-pounder at the golden arches, 450 gallons of water had to be consumed. I found this post really eye-opening and interesting.

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