“I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.” These words by Charles Swindoll are a good reminder during this busy holiday season between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
This growing season has been a challenge for the agricultural community, but farmers’ thankfulness for what they did produce should be a lesson for the rest of us. This “90% reaction” to weather and growing conditions is what makes working with agricultural producers so rewarding.
Hauling water for livestock, ears dropping off corn stalks in August, corn and soybeans ready to harvest in early to mid-September, and yields way below normal are just a few examples of issues we have dealt with this year due to the shortage of rainfall in Ohio.
Ohio averages 38 inches of rainfall per year and, as of this writing, our area has received 21.9 inches. While our area is more fortunate than others, this lack of rainfall is causing long- and short-term challenges for area producers.
Water is the natural resource that most of us take for granted but we truly need it to survive. Water is an essential nutrient for all animals. Water makes up over 98 percent of all molecules in the body and is necessary for regulation of body temperature, growth, reproduction, lactation, digestion, lubrication of joints, eyesight, and as a cleansing agent.
It is important for both animal welfare and business profitability that livestock have an adequate, continuous supply of good quality water. Amount and quality of water required vary between species of livestock, between classes of stock within the species, and in response to the environment in which the stock are housed.
Animals are likely to suffer distress if they cannot access water for more than 24 hours. Too little water is more of a problem in cold weather than in hot — even a skim of ice over a water bucket may keep animals from drinking. All animals drink more water, and will do better, if it is slightly warmed. A freeze-proof waterer is a good investment.
Necessary for food
Water is even critical for maintaining food levels, as animals will stay bunched up in or out of livestock shelters and not move to where feed is. Even if hay and feed is carried to them, they won’t eat it without water.
Contrary to popular belief, grain does not help to keep ruminants — cattle, sheep, goats, and horses — warm, but hay does. The bacterial breakdown of roughage creates heat, so increase hay during colder-than-normal weather.
Coshocton County was recently approved for ECP (Emergency Conservation Practices) drought assistance funds. Our local Farm Service Agency office applied for these funds and is working with our SWCD to get the practices installed.
Cost share funds
Over 60 producers in our community applied for these cost share funds to provide water for livestock through pipelines, tanks and troughs, construction of wells, and developing springs.
This is a perfect example of local and federal agencies working together to help our landowners provide better sources of water for livestock.
I encourage you to stop or call your local SWCD office for advice and technical assistance on watering facilities for your livestock. And remember our attitude is the 90% that matters most in life.