Cows are sensitive to drinking water quality, however, little is known about the perception of bore water that sometimes contain high concentrations of natural contaminants, such as iron and manganese. Our aim was to investigate if providing drinking water from town supply compared with unfiltered bore water would influence water intake, milk production and cow preferences. Four groups of cows (50 cows/group) milked once-a-day in autumn were offered either town supply water or unfiltered bore water for two weeks, before changing treatment for another two weeks in a cross-over design. Group water intake and individual milk production was measured daily (n=4 groups/treatment). Water source did not influence water intake or milk production (P≥0.641). A preference study on a subset of animals was undertaken after the initial trial period in which two groups of cows (n=2, 20 cows/ group) had free access to both water sources simultaneously for three days. Cows preferred to drink the unfiltered bore water compared to town supply (descriptive data). It is likely that the cows’ previous experience with drinking the unfiltered bore water influenced the results. The cows may also have perceived components of the town supply aversive compared to the bore water to which they were accustomed.

K, Schütz, F Huddart, and E Hardie

New Zealand Journal of Animal Science and Production, Volume 82, Online, 33-38, 2022
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