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Quantifying the water and energy usage of individual activities within Australian feedlots


Water availability and cost of supply is changing rapidly, driven by increased demand for industry, urban water supply and the environment. With droughts adding to low river flows, water supplies are very tight in many feedlot regions. Capped water supply and water trading in the Murray Darling Basin have increased the value of water significantly. In Victoria, large feedlots are now required to quantify and reduce their water usage. These pressures will promote careful management of water resources throughout the industry to ensure continued supply and minimise costs.

Little work has been undertaken to evaluate total water consumption by feedlots. The amount of water used at feedlots was studied in North America in the 1980’s. To date, only a limited study on drinking water requirements has been undertaken in Australia. Water is the most important feed component fed to cattle, hence, it is of critical importance to lot feeders.

Whilst lot feeders usually have good records of total annual water usage, little data exists on actual usage levels for the individual components of the operation, including drinking water, feed management, cattle washing, administration and sundry activities.

Eight feedlots were selected to provide a sample group representative of the geographical, climatic and feeding regime diversity within the Australian feedlot industry. At seven of these feedlots, water meters were installed to allow an examination of water usage by individual activities. The major water usage activities (drinking water, feed management, cattle washing) were monitored and recorded.

This report provides factual information on the quantity of water used within individual activities at seven Australian feedlots on a monthly basis. This puts valuable information in the hands of the industry to improve resource efficiency, meet the requirements of legislation and improve the sustainability of the industry in the face of a variable climate.


Title Size Date published
1.7MB 06/10/2010


Contract No. Title Start date End date Funding type
Improving water and energy use efficiency in the Australian feedlot Industry
22/09/2008 15/05/2009

This page was last updated on 19/09/2018

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