Three observational studies were conducted to determine the water intake behaviour of ewes during the summer of 2017 and autumn of 2018 in the Manawatū and summer of 2021 in the Wairarapa. In each study, ewes were offered ad-libitum access to water from reticulated water troughs with video cameras recording footage of ewe drinking behaviour. Ewes were fitted with a uniquely numbered collar and spray marked with an identification number on their flank. Proximity of ewes to the water trough was determined using Bluetooth technology. Maximum daily temperatures ranged between 17.2 and 25.5°C in study 1, 9.9 and 23.6°C in study 2 and 16.0 and 28.1°C in study 3. Pasture moisture content was greater than 70% in both the Manawatū studies and less than 60% in the Wairarapa. Eighty percent of ewes in 2017 and 45% in 2018 were not observed to drink from the water trough at any time in the Manawatū, although, there was considerable intra-animal variation. In the Wairarapa, all ewes were observed to drink during the study on between one and 14 occasions. These studies suggest that ewe drinking behaviour showed considerable variation between individuals and is likely dependent on the environmental conditions and pasture moisture content.

-Thomas, Corner, AS Bunyaga, I Draganova, L Burkitt, and PR Kenyon

New Zealand Journal of Animal Science and Production, Volume 82, Online, 69-76, 2022
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