What Do Cows Drink? Water? Milk? (Video)

What do cows consume? If you answered “water”, you’re correct. What do they consume during winter when ponds and streams are frozen? We will demonstrate it to you.

what-do-cows-drink - clover-meadows-beef-grass-fed-beef

What do cows consume? Water? Milk? Something else?

Sometimes in the winter, when ponds are frozen over, we may hear a great question: how do cows get on ice on a pond? After all, it’s a great question.

Cows consume water. Calves consume the milk of their mother.

We have three primary water sources on our farm: pure spring water, reservoirs, and automated water dispensers.

What do baby calves drink?

Young calves consume their mother’s milk for approximately six months. Afterward, we transition them to a diet of water.

There are several reasons why they wean them. First, the mother ceases milk production at approximately six months. Second, as the calf matures, it can obtain more nutrients from the grass rather than the milk. While the milk is crucial initially, once the calf reaches around six months old (approximately 500 lbs), it is more beneficial for it to grow and develop muscle through the nutrients provided by the grass.


Fence-line weaning, which is considered the best practice in the industry, reduces stress on both the cow and calf. Our farm implements this method known as “fence-line weaning.”

Generally, calves are fully weaned within about the time they want to eat grass and are forward from only their mother’s milk. The calf can’t drink its mother’s milk, but it can see and hear each other and have nose-to-nose contact with the calves and cows. Then, we move the cows to another field adjacent to the field where the calves are separated by a fence. The calves and cows are kept together in the same field for months, so they are very familiar with their surroundings, including the field’s feed and water sources. This process of weaning looks like the fence-line process.

We separate most young cows in the autumn on the farm.

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  • Where do cows get water in the spring, summer and fall?

    Cows enjoy drinking from pristine springs and ponds. Here are some images of the crystal-clear springs and ponds on our farm.

    Besides providing water, springs and ponds also aid in keeping livestock comfortable during hot days — who’s up for a swim?!

    Fresh Spring Water at Clover Meadows Beef
    Fresh Spring Water at Clover Meadows Beef
    Looks like a great day for swimming!
    Looks like a great day for swimming!

    Where do cows get water in the winter?

    (For the grammar enthusiasts, that’s not a typographical error. There genuinely is an “-er” at the end) Automatic waterers get water to our cattle during the winter season.

    We always know that our cows love to get water, so we can always make sure our cattle can get water when they want it. In the winter, the temperature doesn’t freeze the water, so we can adjust the temperature slightly and our automatic waterers contain water well.

    Here’s a video with Matt showcasing one of our automated water dispensers.

    Buy beef & learn more about our farm

    If you are in the Louis St. Area and want to buy beef from our farm, please visit our online store and sign up for our weekly enewsletter to stay updated on beef availability. If you live outside of Louis St., But have questions about buying beef from a farm, please visit our blog for information on the life and facts of cows from a farmer’s perspective. Additionally, we have an ebook on our website that explains the process of preparing and purchasing beef from farmers.

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