Elite Agri Solutions strives to provide background information on topics which are hard to research. In cases where no reputable print resources were available for us to reference, we interviewed industry experts, so it is inevitable that the contents of this document will contain inaccuracies and bias. Use this as a resource to help you ask the right questions, not as a source of definitive answers. Elite Agri Solutions and its employee’s will not be responsible for the consequences of any decision made based on this guide. Where text or data has been copied directly, the sources have been noted, otherwise it can be assumed that all the information in this guide has only been curated by Elite Agri Solutions and is not our original property.


Finding a suitable water supply at the proposed building site should come before any other actions. A good quality ground water source is generally the most economical source of water.

Whether drawing from a surface or ground source, maximum usage without a permit to take water is 379,000 L/day for livestock watering, and an additional 50,000 L/day for non-animal consumption uses.

According to an OMAFRA specialist, only a handful of livestock producers in the province would come close to this limit, however if you estimate that you will be over this requirement then you will need a permit from the ministry of environment and must have a full hydrogeological survey completed. Famers who exceed the 379,000 L/day maximum and who are on the boundary of a drainage basin, (i.e. their farms drain into two different great lakes) will have to abide by the International Great Lakes Charter. Despite these exceptions, a livestock producer may still be required to obtain a permit if you are impacting neighboring wells or the nearby environment. This is because existing water users in Ontario take precedent over new or proposed uses. This means that if your well is already established and a new water taking activity in the area affects you, the issue can be reported to the Ministry of The Environment by calling the Spills Action Centre 1-866-663-8477

For the purposes of determining the suitability of a water source’s capacity, the maximum daily water use is the important figure, while for designing the pumping and delivery system, the peak flowrate is considered. This ensures that you have enough volume available and that it can be delivered fast enough when multiple demands are drawing at the same time.

Well Water



Clearance Distances Between Wells and Existing Sewage Systems [1]

Sewage system Minimum horizontal distance in metres from a well with watertight casing to a depth of at least 6 m. Minimum

horizontal distance

in metres from a

spring used as a

source of potable

water or well other

than a well with a

watertight casing

to a depth of at

least 6 m

From Table Earth Pit Privy 15m 30m
Privy Vault

Pail Privy

10m 15m
Greywater system 10m 15m
Cesspool 30m 60m
From Table Treatment unit (such as a septic tank) 15m 15m
From Table Distribution pipe in a leaching or filter bed 15m 30m
From Table Holding tank 15m 15m


Table 1

Minimum Setback for Application of Agricultural Source Material[2]

Type of Well Minimum horizontal distance in metres from well to nutrient application.
Drilled well with a depth of at least 15m, and watertight casing to a depth of a least six metres below ground level. 15m
Any other classification of well. 30m


Best Management Practices

  • Where possible a well should be located up gradient of potential sources of contamination.
  • Identify all existing wells in the vicinity as they can impact any new well construction.
  • Have utilities located before planning commences.
  • Lightning rods are not to be attached to the casing of new wells.


General Construction Information

Table 2

Comparison of Well Types[3]

Well Type Suitable Geologic Materials Advantages Disadvantages
Drilled: Commonly 6” in diameter and up to 30,000’ deep Over Burden and Bedrock Greatest depth.

Typically provides a consistent rate of groundwater during low recharge periods.


Little storage capacity.

Deep groundwater may have elevated levels of minerals and gas.

Dug: Commonly greater than 3’ in diameter and up to 30’ deep Overburden Large storage capacity.

No specialized equipment required.

Water shortages are more common during dry periods. Susceptible to surface and near surface contaminants.

Depth limited by excavating equipment.

Bored: Commonly greater than 3’in diameter and up to 100’ deep Overburden Large storage capacity Water shortages are more common during dry periods. Susceptible to surface and near surface contaminants.

Depth limited by soil caving conditions.

Driven-Point or Jetted Driven Point: Commonly greater than 2” in diameter and up to 50’ deep Overburden Can be done with handheld or small inexpensive drilling machines.

Multiple wells can be connected to increase yield.

Water shortages are more common during dry periods. Susceptible to surface and near surface contaminants. Little storage capacity.

Only suitable for very specific sand or gravel soil types.


  • A person, partnership or company engaging in the business of well construction is required to obtain and maintain a well contractor license unless exempt under the Wells Regulation.
  • All new wells other than test holes or dewatering wells must be sited so that they are at a higher elevation than the immediate surrounding area (pit wells are prohibited).
  • If the well is left unattended during construction, the person constructing the well must cover the upper open end of the well securely to prevent entry of surface water and other foreign materials.
  • No driveways or buildings other than a pump house may be built over top the well. The landscape around the well must be suitable for equipment to access the well to rehabilitate, deepen or decommission the well.
  • Once a site for the well has been selected, the location of the well must be carefully noted on the well record, including both the Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) coordinates using a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver, and an accurate site sketch.

Yield Test

The person constructing the well must test the yield of a well before the well’s structural stage is complete. When testing the well yield, the water level in the well must be measured and recorded as follows[4]

immediately before commencement of pumping,

  • at 1-minute intervals or more frequently during the first five minutes of pumping,
  • at 5-minute intervals or more frequently during the next 25 minutes of pumping,
  • at 10-minute intervals or more frequently during the next 30 minutes of pumping,
  • at 1-minute intervals or more frequently during the first five minutes after pumping stops,
  • at 5-minute intervals or more frequently during the next 25 minutes after pumping stops, and
  • at 10-minute intervals or more frequently during the next 30 minutes after pumping stops.

The person constructing the well must pump the water from the well, at a steady rate, continuously for at least one hour, and record the rate of pumping during the test on the well record.

Draw down is the difference between the force that causes water to flow toward the well and the rate at which it is withdrawn from the well. Drawdown increases with pumping rate.

Drawdown = Pumping Water Level – Static Water Level

After pumping is stopped, the water level rises and approaches the original static water level. During water level recovery, the distance between the recovery water level and the initial static water level is called residual drawdown.

Residual Drawdown = Recovery Water Level – Static Water Level

Specific Capacity is a measure of the drawdown caused by a pumping rate and is used as a basis for determining the well’s capacity.

Specific Capacity of a well = Pumping Rate ÷ Drawdown

Specific capacity is in units of L/min/m or GPM/ft

Specific capacity is an indicator of how much a well can be pumped before the water level drops to the intake level, determining if intermediate storage might be necessary. If it is felt that a well’s capacity is decreasing after several years, doing another pumping test and comparing the new specific capacity to the original is a good indicator of whether the well needs rehabilitation.

All wells in Ontario must be tagged and have a corresponding well record which contains the information from testing and installation.


After New Well Construction is Complete

Unless exempt, on the day the well’s structural stage is complete, the person constructing the well shall:

Remove all debris from the well, and ensure:

  • the water in the well is dosed to a concentration between 50 mg/L and 200 mg/L of free chlorine and is left undisturbed for at least 12 hours.
  • the water in the well is not used for human consumption until the steps listed in the “Shock” Chlorination Steps section of the Plainly Stated are followed.

If the water in the well is not to be used for human consumption, no further disinfection steps are required. If the water in the well is to be used for human consumption and unless exempt, the person constructing the well must follow the requirements as per the Government of Ontario’s “Water Supply Wells: Requirements and Best Practices”.

The person who is responsible for ensuring that the water is tested for free chlorine residual must ensure the well purchaser is provided with a written record of the test results before the well is used as a source of water for human consumption.

Municipal Water

Municipal water supplies can either be supplied via a centralized well or a lake intake. If the municipal system relies on a well, the possibility of periods of restricted water usage are possible. Water supplied from a great lake intake must be of good quality by law, and other than routine maintenance or mechanical failure, the supply is nearly guaranteed.

Municipal water supply will come at a cost if a connection is not already existing, and there is typically an ongoing fee either based on a flat rate or by usage.

Surface Water


Springs occur where the aquifer layer carrying ground water under gravitational pressure is exposed to the surface either on the side of a slope of at a break in an impervious layer present above the aquifer. Spring water is typically collected using either a collector tile and spring box or a spring box with a porous wall on the uphill side. The spring box is recessed into the ground acts as a capacitor to build up a supply of water before it is piped to its end use. Springs are susceptible to surface contamination and should be treated similarly to a shallow dug well.

Surface Water and Shore Wells

Shore Wells are shallow wells influenced by surface water and are installed near a waterbody in a shallow aquifer that is connected to the surface water body. Shore wells are relatively common on the periphery of the great lakes in Ontario. Soils surrounding shore wells provide minimal filtration so the risk of contamination of these sources can be like those of surface water sources.


In areas where groundwater is either unavailable or of very poor quality, capturing surface runoff may be the only means of ensuring a continuous water supply. Generally, dugouts capture temporary surplus surface water that occurs during snowmelt in the spring. Summer rains may also be collected but this runoff is typically of poorer quality. Due to the variable nature of precipitation a dugout must be of large enough capacity to compensate for years of insufficient runoff or high evaporation losses.

Typical dugouts are earthen excavations designed to hold anywhere from half a million to tens of millions of liters of water. Water quality is generally poor due to nutrients, suspended sediment, organisms and high mineral content of runoff water. It is recommended that water be aerated to improve quality and be regularly tested.

The dugout is not a preferred source and not very common for supplying farm buildings in Ontario. If more information is required, the Alberta government publication ‘Quality Farm Dugouts’ is a thorough reference.

Roof Water Collection

If limited to surface water, it is beneficial to divert roof water directly into a holding pond or cistern, instead of letting it flow over the ground and collecting it as surface runoff. Doing this significantly improves water quality.


A farmstead water system should be able to supply the peak flow rate continuously for two hours. If peak use rates exceed maximum well yield it is necessary to provide intermediate storage. The casing of the well can provide considerable storage, for example a 6-inch drilled well casing holds 1.47 Gallons of water every foot, while a 3-foot dug well holds 211.51 gallons of water every foot. Depending on the height of water standing in the bore hole, it can provide extra capacity for short peaks in demand.

If after considering both the yield of the well and the water standing in it, there is still not enough flow rate to deliver the daily maximum in two hours intermediate storage will be required. This usually consists of a non-pressurized intermediate tank or cistern that is fed from the well by a pump with a rated capacity slightly less than the yield of the well. The pump should be controlled by the water level in the storage tank and by a low water level control in the well casing. A jet pump and pressure tank capable of meeting the peak flow demands will then draw from the intermediate storage tank to supply the farmstead.

Intermediate tanks can be of various construction and should always be buried below frost level or heated to protect from freezing. It is recommended that the storage tank be of sized appropriately to supply the needs of the entire day. Intermediate storage tanks can be beneficial tools for water treatment processes allowing chemical rates to be reduced because of the increased contact time with the water. Storage tanks can provide water for emergency use such as for fire protection and in case of well equipment failure.


Livestock can better tolerate poor water quality than humans, usually water quality issues with livestock are not fatal. Poor quality water will affect growth, lactation and reproduction. The physical affects might be hard to detect, but the effect on the farms bottom line can be significant.

It can be relatively expensive to bring in water by truck. It is common in areas of Ontario that have poor water due to salinity or other high mineral concentrations, to blend ground water with water brought in by truck. This keeps the quality in an acceptable range while reducing cost compared to trucking in the entire water requirement.


Test water at the point of use (e.g. out of a tap, irrigation line), not at the source, because water can become contaminated by the time it reaches the point of use.

To test well water for total coliforms and E. coli, contact the local public health unit. To find a local public health unit, call the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care Infoline at 1-866-532-3161.

There are no definite guidelines for the presence of microbes in livestock drinking water sources. Suggestions are given below:

Total bacteria: <10,000 per 100 mL

Total coliforms <5,000 per 100 mL

Source: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Water Recommendation Diagram

Common Classification of Water Hardness[5]

Level of Hardness ppm or mg/L (metric units) Grains per Gallon (alternative units)
Soft 0-60 0-3.5
Moderate 61-120 3.5-7
Hard 121-180 7-10.5
Very Hard More than 180 More than 10.5


Water should be tested at least once a year. Frequency of water testing is dependent on water source and intended use. The best time to sample your well water is when the probability of contamination is greatest. This is likely to be in early spring just after the thaw, after an extended dry spell, following heavy rains or after lengthy periods of non-use. Public health units in Ontario will complete water testing for free, however they only test for E. coli and total coliforms. More can be done by private laboratories. A complete list of licensed laboratories can be found on the Public Health Ontario “Well Water Testing” website. The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment website provides “Canadian Water Quality Guidelines for the Protection of Agricultural Water Uses”. If concerned about a specific water contaminant, compare test results to this guideline.


Many areas of Ontario experience hard water (calcium carbonate), this is generally not considered a factor to animal health, but it can build up within plumbing and watering equipment causing issues over time.


The best treatment method is prevention, most microbial water quality issues are caused by contamination from surface sources. Following proper setbacks, controlling manure runoff, grassed waterways and preventing direct livestock access to water sources are all much more affordable than long-term treatment options.

Treatment options can be grouped into two categories depending on whether there are any chemicals entering the water or not. Treatment options can be used alone or in combinations depending on the needs of the situation. With all treatment methods it is important that accurate records are kept so that the effectiveness can be monitored.

Physical water treatment[6]

  • Filtration is the process of treating water contaminated with substances such as dirt or organic matter. For example, sand filters will remove large particles from the water. Granular activated carbon (GAC) filters, commonly known as charcoal filters, will filter particulate matter from the water and will also adsorb (soak up) dissolved organic matter and other contaminants. Membrane filtration is the most effective method for removing parasites such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium.
  • Ultraviolet (UV) lightis a non-chemical method for killing micro-organisms such as bacteria, viruses (not retroviruses and rotaviruses), spores and cysts.


Chemical water treatment[7]

  • Coagulating wateris the process of adding chemicals to water to make dissolved or suspended particles bind together and settle out. This process reduces the level of organic compounds, dissolved phosphorus, color, iron and suspended particles.
  • Chlorinationis the process of adding chlorine to water to kill bacteria and viruses but not parasites such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium. Two types of water chlorination-shock chlorination and continuous chlorination-are used in water treatment. Shock chlorination (used for treatment of wells) is the process of flushing a well and water system with a chlorine solution. Continuous chlorination (used for treating dump tank water) is always a process of adding chlorine to water continuously to maintain a certain level of free chlorine in the water.
  • Ozonationis the process of adding ozone to water to kill bacteria, viruses, parasites, mould and yeast spores. Ozone completely breaks down in water.
  • Hydrogen peroxideis a chemical added to water to kill bacteria, viruses and fungi. It is not as effective as chlorine.


Shock treatment of wells using household unscented chlorine bleach is a solution to short term microbe problems. While continuous treatment for microbes can be done using bleach, chlorine dioxide, ultraviolet light, ozone or peroxyacetic acid. Consult with a veterinarian when making decisions on water treatment for livestock.

Membrane filters are an important part of systems that have small orifices such as nipple drinkers and sprinkler cooling systems.




Submersible pumps are commonly used in drilled wells. The motor is sealed and attached to the pump. The unit is suspended in the well below the water level. It does not need frost protection because of its depth, but must be pulled from the well if maintenance is required.

Makeup of the Pump

Three-wire well pumps house the starting components in a control box at ground level and have the advantage of cheaper and easier maintenance in the case of component failure, all motors over 1.5hp require 3 wire configurations. Two-wire submersible pumps have all components sealed inside the pump housing submersed at the bottom of the well. Submersible pumps are susceptible to silt sand and algae damage if used in a shallow well.

Jet pumps can be used in two different configurations for either shallow or deep well operation. Shallow well jet pumps are used when water is less than 25 feet below the surface. Deep well jet pumps are used for depths between 25 and 250 ft. Deep well jet pumps have the jet unit submersed in the well while the motor and pump remain on ground level.  Jet pumps provide relatively high capacity at low heads but require frost protection and are at risk of losing prime if the check valve submersed at the bottom of the well leaks.

Table 1. Well casing and borehole diameter for desired pumping rate.[8]
Borehole size
Casing size
Pumping rate
6 4 less than 20
8 6 20 to 100
10 8 75 to 175
12 10 150 to 400
14 12 350 to 600
20 16 600 to 1300
24 20 1300 to 1800
28 24 1800 to 3000


Table 3

Recommended Flow Rates for Livestock[9]

Average Daily Use (Gallons/Day) Flow Rate (GPM)
1000 8
1500 12
2000 16
2500 20
3000 24
4000 28
5000 32
6000 36
7000 39
8000 42
9000 45
10000 48
12000 50


For planning purposes, it is recommended that a water system be able to supply the maximum daily water requirement in a two-hour time period.


Specific capacity of your well will be calculated by the drilling contractor when they do the required yield test for the well.

The static height of the water in the borehole can be measured, and the minimum water level can be taken to be a specific safety height above where the permanent pump is going to be placed (eg. 10 feet above pump). The maximum draw down is then the difference between the static water level and the minimum water level.

Pump capacity should be sized to provide the required flow rate at the pumping depth.

Pressure Tanks

A pressure tank allows a water system to automatically regulate itself by providing constant pressure and short-term water storage. Older types of pressure tanks include galvanized steel tanks without any separation between the air and the water, and galvanized steel tanks with a wafer floating on top of the water. Today, pressure tanks with a diaphragm or a rubber bladder are most common because their sealed chamber never needs to be re-pressurized.

The pressurized storage tank works on the principle that water is an incompressible fluid, while air is compressible. When there is no water exiting the system, the pump will continue to force water into the tank squeezing the air that is trapped above it. The pump kicks off when the pressure in the tank reaches a preset value, usually 40 PSI. When an exit to the system is opened, the pressurized air pushes the water in the tank towards the exit. Upon reaching a lower limit, usually 20 PSI, the water pump will automatically start and run until the upper pressure limit is reached.

It is recommended that the size of the storage tank be large enough to provide the peak usage for one minute. Peak usage can be estimated by taking the average daily usage and dividing it by 120 minutes.


Table 4

Required Tank Draw Down Capacity[10]

Pump Flow Rate Gallons Per Minute Gallons of Drawdown Capacity for Each Gallon per Minute Supplied by the Pump
Less than 10 1
10-20 1.5
Greater than 20 2


Table 5

Useable pressurized storage amount in gallons for various types of pressure tanks with common pressure switch settings[11]

Total Tank Volume (Gallons) Usable Water Storage or Drawdown Capacity for Pressure Switch Range (Gallons)
Galvanized Steel Tanks Pre-Charged Steel Tank with Wafer Diaphragm or bladder tank 20 to 40 psi 30 to 50 psi 40 to 60 psi
15 4.5 4.5 1.7 1.4 1.2
30 14 14 5.1 4.3 3.7
42 20 20 6.5 5.5 5
82 32 32 12 10 8.5
120 45 45 18 15 12


Fire Prevention Measures


Dairy Cattle

Seeing that milk is 87% water, having an adequate supply and quality of freshwater is of utmost importance for dairy cattle. Factors that influence water consumption are:

  • milk production
  • feed moisture,
  • air temperature and humidity.

Significant quantities of water are also used in cleaning and sanitizing procedures.

Volume Requirements

Table 6

Water Consumption by Dairy Cattle[12]  [13]  [14]

Dairy Cattle Type Level of
Milk Production
(kg milk/day)
Water Requirement Rangea
Average Typical Water Useb
Dairy calves (1-4 months) 4.9-13.2 9
Dairy heifers (5-24 months) 14.4-36.3 25
Milking cowsc 13.6 68-83 115
Milking cowsc 22.7 87-102 115
Milking cowsc 36.3 114-136 115
Milking cowsc 45.5 132-155 115
Dry cowsd 34-49 41

a A result of the animals’ environment and management.
b Typical consumption over a year on a daily basis under average agricultural conditions in Ontario.
The average milk production in 2006 for a Holstein dairy cow in Ontario was 33 kg/day.
d Approximately 15% of the milking-age cows present on a dairy farm could be considered “dry.”


Table 7

Estimated indirect daily water usage for a 100 cow parlor dairy[15]



Lower Limit of Usage Upper Limit of Usage Lower Limit of Total Usage Upper Limit of Total Usage
Milking system clean-up1  

75 gal/milking


125 gal/milking





Milking parlor clean-up and flushing1  


400 gal/milking



600 gal/milking







Milk bulk tank clean-up2  

50 gal/wash


60 gal/wash





Cow prepping for milking1 0.25








Milk pre-cooling3,4  

2 gal/gal of milk


2 gal/gal of milk





Miscellaneous 10+ gal/d 100+ gal/d     10    100
Total 4,293 4,930

1Assumes two time per day milking.

2Based on 80 lbs/cow/d milk production that would require the cleaning of a 3,600-gallon bulk

tank every other day.

3Assumes 80 lbs/cow/d milk production.

4This water could be recycled for other uses (e.g., drinking water for dairy animals).


Average daily water use on 17 Ontario dairy operations grouped by milking system from August 2013 to December 2014 [16]

Milking System Total Average Usage (L/d per Cow)
Free stall parlor1 134.6
Free stall robot2 168.8
Tie-stall 1 101.

1 Calculated using total herd size.

2 Calculated using milking heard size.


Equipment Standards

Water is typically supplied free choice to dairy cattle via single animal water bowls or group water troughs. OMAFRA recommends that water be supplied to each bowl at rate greater than 4 litres per minute. It is common among producers to use well water to pre-cool milk before it enters the bulk tank. Water is typically supplied at roughly double the flow rate of milk through the heat exchanger. Water is often directed for other uses after it leaves the cooler reducing water waste.

Beef Cattle

There is relatively little research done into beef cattle water consumption, but similarly to dairy cattle intake is variable based on lactation, feed moisture, humidity and air temperature.

Volume Requirements

Table 8

Water Consumption by Beef Cattle[17]  [18]

Beef Cattle Type Weight Range
Water Requirement Rangea
Typical Water Useb(L/day)
Feedlot cattle: Backgrounder 181-364 (400-800 lb) 15-40 25
Feedlot cattle: Short keep 364-636 (800-1,400 lb) 27-55 41
Lactating cows with calves 43-67 55
Dry cows, bred heifers & bulls 22-54 38

a A result of the animals’ environment and management.
b Typical consumption over a year daily under average agricultural conditions in Ontario.


Equipment Standards

Water is typically supplied free choice to beef cattle through group water troughs or natural water sources. Smaller dimension heated water bowls are common for winter housing where temperatures are below freezing.


The level of water requirement for pigs varies greatly depending on the maturity and weight range of the animals. Factors affecting swine water consumption are

Water is also frequently used for cooling livestock and washing procedures.

Volume Requirements

Table 9

Water Consumption by Swine[19]  [20]

Swine Type Weight Range
Water Requirement Rangea
Average Typical Water Useb
Weaner 7-22 1.0-3.2 2.0
Feeder pig 23-36 3.2-4.5 4.5
Feeder pig 36-70 4.5-7.3 4.5
Feeder pig 70-110 7.3-10 9
Gestating sow/boar 13.6-17.2 15
Lactating sowc 18.1-22.7 20

a A result of the animals’ environment and management.
b Typical consumption over a year daily under average agricultural conditions in Ontario.
c Includes unweaned piglets.


Table 10

Non- Drinking Water Consumption In Farrow-Finish Operations[21]

Function Average (per sow, L/day) Range (per sow, L/day)
Washing 3.1 1.5-4.3
Cooling (Grow/finish) (1) 22.4 8.1-37.1
Cooling (farrowing) (1) 0.3 0.3-0.3
Domestic (2) 1.0 0.4-1.5

1 Extrapolated as the average per total inventoried females in the herd based on sample measurements.
2 Includes all water for Human usage and sow washing.


Equipment Standards

In all-in/all-out production facilities the quantity of water required will change drastically over the course of the growing cycle. It is necessary to design systems to the maximum value and account for the potential usage of cooling systems. The design of the feeding and water system has a massive impact on water usage. Wet/dry feeders and liquid feeding systems have a much lower water usage than traditional nipple, cup or water bowl methods.  If a heat exchanger is incorporated into the ventilation system frost free faucet outside the barn beside the heat exchanger, this will increase the ease of monthly maintenance.


Intake of water in sheep is positively related to feed dry matter intakes and mean ambient temperature. Moist green pasture and high moisture forages may provide most of the water requirements of the animals, meaning that little water is consumed from watering devices.


Volume Requirements

Table 11

Water Consumption by Sheep[22] [23]

Animal Type Weight Range
Water Requirement Rangea
Average Typical Water Useb
Feeder lamb 27-50 3.6-5.2 4.4
Gestating meat ewe/ram 80 4.0-6.5 5.25
Lactating meat ewe plus unweaned offspring 80+ 9.0-10.5 10
Gestating dairy ewe/ram 90 4.4-7.1 5.75
Lactating dairy ewe 90 9.4-11.4 10.4

a A result of the animals’ environment and management.
b Typical consumption over a year daily under average agricultural conditions in Ontario.


Equipment Standards

It is recommended that one square foot of water surface be provided for every 40 ewes.[24] It is recommended that watering devices be designed so that sheep are not prone to standing or defecating inside of it. The industry standard for indoor housed sheep is open water troughs with a float valve to automatically maintain water level. Nipple waterers are an alternative to open sources. Considerations must be made to limit icing in sub-zero conditions.


Table 12

Water Consumption by Goats[25]

Animal Type Average Typical Water Useb
Doe or Buck 9.5
Kids 7.7
Lactating Does 13.2


Equipment Standards

Specialized equipment is not as common as with other species; however, sheep equipment is generally well suited for use with goats.


Water requirements are directly related to feed consumption and to air temperature. Poultry’s primary method of temperature regulation is panting, where an increase in reparatory rate releases heat along with a large quantity of water. It is generally accepted that birds will consume twice as much water as the amount of feed consumed.


Volume Requirements

Broiler water consumptions generally increases about 7% for each 1oC above 21oC[26].

Table 13

Water Consumption of Broiler Chickens by Age[27]

Chicken Broiler Age (weeks) Water Requirement
(L/1,000 birds/day)
21°C 32°C
1-4 50-260 50-415
5-8 345-470 550-770
Table 14

Water Consumption by Chicken Classes Other Than Broilers[28]  [29]

Chicken Type Weight Range
Water Requirement Rangea
(L/1,000 birds/day)
Average Typical Water Useb
(L/1,000 birds/day)
Laying hens 1.6-1.9 180-320 250
Pullets 0.05-1.5 30-180 105
Broiler breeders 3.0-3.5 180-320 250

a A result of the animals’ environment and management.
b Typical consumption over a year on a daily basis under average agricultural conditions in Ontario.



Equipment Standards

The current industry standard is a nipple style drinker with an optional drip cup fixed bellow each nipple. Drinkers are attached to a waterline and typically have a rail for structure. In open housing the drinker system is suspended from the barn ceiling. In cage systems the drinkers are typically attached to the structure of the cage.  Alternatives include more traditional bell drinkers, cup drinkers and trough drinkers.

Water entering the barn is typically passed through a positive displacement meter, a filtration/treatment regime and a pressure regulation regime. A medicator is usually included in parallel to the system and can be used to deliver medication or disinfectant into the drinker system.


Volume Requirements

Table 15

Water Consumption of Turkey by Age[30]

Turkey Age (weeks) Water Requirements
(L/1,000 birds/day)
10°C-21°C 27°C-35°C
1-7 38-327 38-448
8-14 403-737 508-1,063
15-21 747-795 1,077-1,139

Includes spillage losses (typically 2% or less of total consumption).


Table 16

Water Consumption of Turkey by Type[31]

Turkey type Average Typical Water Usea
(L/1,000 birds/day)
Fall/Winter/Spring Summer
Broiler turkey 296 402
Heavy hens 431 600
Turkey toms 513 723

a Typical consumption over a year daily under average agricultural conditions in Ontario

Equipment Standards



A water meter is an extremely useful tool for identifying health ailments with any sort of livestock. Water meters can come equipped with sensors that send electrical signals to barn controllers. This allows water usage to be tracked, which is an incredibly useful management tool. When installing a water meter ensure that water going through the meter only supplies direct livestock consumption, otherwise inaccurate reading will result.

[1] (Ontario Building Code )

[2] (Nutrient Managment Act)

[3] (Government of Ontario, 2015)

[4] (Government of Ontario, 2015)

[5] (Midwest Plan Service, 2009)

[6] (OMAFRA)

[7] (OMAFRA)

[8] (Jarrett, 2011)

[9] (Midwest Plan Service, 2009)

[10] (McDonald )

[11] (PrivateWaterSystemsHandbook)

[12] (Adams, et al., 1995)

[13] (McFarland, 1998)

[14] (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, 2007)

[15] (MidwestPlanService)

[16] (Robinson, Gordon, VanderZaag, Rennie, & Osborne, 2016)

[17] (GALYEAN, 2000)

[18] (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, 2007)

[19] (Froese & Small, 2001)

[20] (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, 2007)

[21] (Froese & Small, 2001)

[22] (Nutrient Requirments of Sheep, 1985)

[23] (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, 2007)

[24] (Ontario Sheep Marketing Agency, 2014)

[25] (Ontario Goat, 2015)

[26] (Nutrient Requirements of Poultry, 1994)

[27] (North & Bell, 1990)

[28] (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, 2007)

[29] (Nutrient Requirements of Poultry, 1994)

[30] (Hybrid Turkeys, 2006)

[31] (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, 2007)