Water is the most abundant nutrient in beef cattle accounting for approximately 98% of all molecules in the animal (NRC, 2000). Despite this fact, it is also the most overlooked nutrient to the detriment of the performance and health of animals and economic viability of producers. Cattle need an adequate, accessible, and frequent supply of fresh water to facilitate physical and chemical processes of the body (NRC, 2000). For example, water is needed to produce saliva, which helps breakdown and lubricate feed so it can easily pass through the digestive system. Furthermore, it helps lubricate joints, cushion the nervous system, transport sound, and is necessary for vision. Water is also necessary for chemical processes, the least of which are for metabolism and energy production. From a chemical standpoint, water is necessary for regulating body temperature, as well as for all aspects of growth and reproduction. Therefore, inadequate water intake can limit growth and production, which can translate to narrower profit margins for producers. That is why it is important to understand factors that influence water nutrition and quality for beef cattle.
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