Water is used in dairy farming for producing feed, watering the animals, and cleaning and disinfecting barns and equipment. The objective of this study was to investigate the drinking and cleaning water use in a dairy cow barn. The water use was measured on a well-managed commercial dairy farm in North-East Germany. Thirty-eight water meters were installed in a barn with 176 cows and two milking systems (an automatic milking system and a herringbone parlour). Their counts were logged hourly over 806 days. On average, the cows in the automatic milking system used 91.1 (SD 14.3) L drinking water per cow per day, while those in the herringbone parlour used 54.4 (SD 5.3) L per cow per day. The cows drink most of the water during the hours of (natural and artificial) light in the barn. Previously published regression functions of drinking water intake of the cows were reviewed and a new regression function based on the ambient temperature and the milk yield was developed (drinking water intake (L per cow per day) = −27.937 + 0.49 × mean temperature + 3.15 × milk yield (R2
= 0.67)). The cleaning water demand had a mean of 28.6 (SD 14.8) L per cow per day in the automatic milking system, and a mean of 33.8 (SD 14.1) L per cow per day in the herringbone parlour. These findings show that the total technical water use in the barn makes only a minor contribution to water use in dairy farming compared with the water use for feed production.
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