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Present address: 1,2,7Principal Scientist (singh.sultan
@rediffmail.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com),
Plant Animal Relationship Division,3,4,5Principal Scientist
(firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, suchitrai67
@yahoo.co.in), Crop Production Division, 8Principal Scientist
(firstname.lastname@example.org), Crop Improvement Division.
6Principal Scientist (email@example.com), Regional
Research Station, Dharwad.
Nearly 29% of the water in agriculture is directly or
indirectly used for animal production (Hoekstra and
Mekonnen 2012). Animal type, activity, feed intake and
diet, water quality, water temperature and environment
temperature are the main factors influencing water
requirement for livestock production (Lardy et al. 2008).
Feed production constitutes the largest amount of water used
in livestock production and the amount of feed produced is
growing globally (Deutsch et al. 2010). Water needed for
drinking, washing and for other services such as cooling
and washing, cleaning of production facilities and animal
product processing constitutes less than 1%. Livestock
water productivity for the unit animal product is influenced
by 3 factors namely feed conversion efficiency (amount of
feed consumed per unit of meat/milk produced), diet
composition (roughage to concentrate ratio), and the feed
origin (Gerbens-Leenes et al. 2013). To produce the
maintenance diet for 1 tropical livestock unit (TLU:
Indian Journal of Animal Sciences 84 (10): 1090–1094, October 2014/Article
Water requirement estimates of feed and fodder production for Indian livestock
vis a vis livestock water productivity
SULTAN SINGH1, A K MISHRA2, J B SINGH3, S K RAI4, M J BAIG5, N BIRADAR6,
A KUMAR7 and O P S VERMA8
Indian Grassland and Fodder Research Institute, Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh 284 003 India
Received: 11 November 2013; Accepted: 26 June 2014
Water required for feed production accounts the major part of livestock requirement and primarily influences
the livestock water productivity. Water requirement to produce a kg DM of common green fodder, protein and
energy feeds varied from 267 (sorghum) to 713.3 liter (lucerne), 1,000.0 (linseed) to 2,000.0 liter (soybean) and
690.0 (maize grain) to 850.0 liter (oat grain), respectively. Total water requirement estimated for livestock population
2003 and 2010 were 16.30 and 16.15 MCM, where cattle (both indigenous and crossbred) had highest water
requirement (10.11 and 9.51 MCM). To meet the green fodder and concentrate requirement of livestock 151.72,
156.83 and 161.81 and 142.76, 157.67 and 172.04 BCM water required in year 2015, 2020 and 2025, respectively.
Livestock water productivity to produce 1 kg milk ranged from 475.0 to 3,751.0 liter depending on the animal
rearing system (extensive to intensive system), while to produce a kg of meat water requirement ranges from
8,215.0 to 9,680.0 liter depending on the animal species. Livestock water requirement for drinking and washing is
very low (3.6%) than for feed and fodder production, while the livestock water productivity varies widely with
their rearing system (extensive vs. intensive system) and animal species.
Key words: Feed, Fodder, Livestock, Water requirement and productivity
measured at 250kg live weight) about 450m3 of water is
required annually. Feeds have highly variable water
productivity, ranging from 0.5 kg above-ground dry matter
/m3 water (US grasslands on 300 mm annual rainfall) to 8
kg/m3 (irrigated forage sorghum, Sudan (Peden et al. 2007).
Livestock industry across the globe uses about 8% of total
water used. The major part of it goes to irrigate the feed
crops used for livestock feeding. Zimmer and Renault
(2003) demonstrated that a survival diet require 1m3 of
water/head/day, whereas an animal product based diet of
humans needs some 10 m3 water/capita/day. Schlink et al.
(2010) has discussed global position of water requirement
for livestock production in detail. Mekonnen and Hoekstra
(2012) carried out a comprehensive global study of the water
foot print of farm animals and animal products. Present
study was done to estimate the water requirement of Indian
livestock for drinking, washing and to produce the feed and
fodders based on their availability and demand projections
as well as water requirement to produce unit milk and meat.
Many workers have included several processes and
factors involved in animal rearing while calculating the
water requirement. For the present study many assumptions
and following factors have been included for determining
livestock water productivity.
October 2014] WATER REQUIREMENTS OF FEED PRODUCTION FOR INDIAN LIVESTOCK 1091
1. Water requirement for drinking and washing/cleaning
2. Water requirement for feed and fodder (green fodder,
straw/stover/crop residues, protein and energy source)
Drinking and washing requirements of water were taken
from Indian literature (Kidan 1976, Pal et al. 1973 and
Radadia et al. 1980). For calculation it was assumed that
only half of the livestock population in India is washed
daily. It was further assumed that only female stock of cattle
and buffaloes are washed daily. For male stock, calves of
less than a year and breeding and working bulls of crossbred
cattle and indigenous cattle respectively are washed. For
livestock species like sheep, goats, yak, mithun, camel, pigs,
donkeys, mules etc. no water was taken into consideration
Crop residues yield were estimated for different crops
(both Rabi and Kharif crops) using their production data
from agricultural statistics (MoA, GOI 2003) and grain
straw ratio factors (Ramchandra et al. 2007, Jain et al. 1996).
It was assumed that the crop residues had 90% DM contents.
Further for green fodder, crop residues and concentrates,
dry matter contents of 30, 61.48 and 90 %, respectively
were taken into account to estimate the dry matter
availability from these feed and fodder resources. To
calculate the water requirement for unit (kg) feed and fodder
production, total water requirement of crops (green fodder
and grain/seed crops) and their yield was taken into account
(Menhi lal and Shukla 1988). As the cereal crops are grown
mainly for grains which are used as ingredient of livestock
concentrate/feed for which the water used was taken into
account and to avoid the double accounting no water was
accounted for straw and stover production.
Animal population and their categories
India had 185.18 million cattle, 97.92 million buffaloes,
61.47 million sheep, 124.36 million goats and 15.82 million
other livestock including pig, donkey, mule, camel, horse,
yak and mithun, which constitute about 20% of the world’s
ruminant population (GOI 2003). Classification of species
into different categories, viz. calves below 1 year, between
1–1.5 year, heifers, working, lactating, breeding, breeding
plus working and others is based on Livestock Census 2003
Many assumptions were used to calculate the livestock
water productivity (to produce 1liter milk or 1 kg meat) for
different ruminant species. For milk production these
includes: animal weight (400 kg), dry matter intake (2.2%
of body weight), diet composition (concentrate 1/3, roughage
2/3 of which 2/3 dry roughage and 1/3 green fodder), milk
yield (7.5 liter) etc. It was also considered that the concentrate
mixture consists of 33 parts protein, 65 parts energy source
and rest 1 part each of mineral mixture and common salt.
Animals producing up to 4 liter of milk/day do not require
additional water for milk production. For each 0.453 liter of
additional milk production 2.5 liter of extra water is required.
Water required for drinking and cleaning mentioned earlier
was also taken into account.
In intensive system of rearing animals were fed straw,
green fodder and concentrate following thumb rule of 1/3
concentrate and 2/3 roughage. For calculating the water
requirement, the mean values of water efficiency mentioned
in protein, energy and green fodder were considered
assuming this will represent the average water requirement
for different sources of protein, energy and green
In semi extensive system of rearing system, it was
assumed that animal is getting 1% (nearly 40% of its DM
requirement) of its dry matter requirement from 4 h grazing
and rest amount of DM is met through roughage and
concentrate distributed in 2/3 and 1/3 parts, respectively.
This roughage part consists of dry roughage and green in
2/3 and 1/3 part. For calculating water requirement the green
fodder and concentrate offered at stall was taken into
account. The DM consumed by animal through grazing was
not taken into account for calculating as it was assumed
that biomass/dry matter grazed by the animal receives water
from rain as no water was supplied to produce that biomass
or dry matter. In extensive system, it was assumed that
animal is getting 1.5 % (nearly 60% of its DM requirement)
of its DM requirement through 8 h grazing. Only 60% to
40% of the balance (4 kg DM) is supplied with nearly 2.0
kg straw/grass and ½ kg of kitchen waste or flour and does
not meet the production requirement of the animal. In this
system of rearing water requirement was accounted only
for ½ kg of feed supplemented to animal in the form of
flour. The DM consumed through grazing was not taken
into account for calculation assuming that biomass/dry
matter grazed by the animal produced from rain water.
For meat production it was assumed that birth weight of
sheep and goat is 2.5 kg, while that of buffalo and cattle
birth weight is 25.0 kg. Slaughter weight and meat yield
was assumed 25.0 kg and 22.5 kg for both sheep and goat
and 250.kg and 225 kg for both cattle and buffalo,
respectively. A dressing per cent of 0.40 and 0.38 was
assumed for small and large ruminants, respectively. Feed
conversion efficiencies of 14.2, 12.5 and 10 % were
assumed for sheep, goat and large ruminants (cattle and
buffaloes), respectively. To attain a body weight of 25 kg,
goat and sheep consume 200 and 175 kg feed DM, while a
buffalo to attain a body weight of 250 kg consumes 2,500
kg feed DM. For buffalo/cattle 30 liter/d water for drinking
and another 30 liter/d for other purpose were considered. It
was assumed that sheep and goat require 4.0 and 4.5 liter
water/d for drinking and 1 liter water for processing of each
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Water requirement for feed and fodder production: The
water requirement of the crop varies mainly with genetic
makeup, crop duration and environment conditions during
crop growth. Crops like berseem and alfalfa; lucerne and
cowpea require more water than sorghum and oat. The water
requirement to produce 1 kg of dry matter for different
fodder crops is given in Table 1.
1092 SINGH ET AL. [Indian Journal of Animal Sciences 84 (10)
Since straw is byproduct of rice and wheat grain, so for
straw production no water is accounted for as the wheat
and rice crops are primarily grown for grain production
and not for straw production. The amount of water required
to produce 1 kg of protein and energy source is given in
Table 1. The water requirement for soybean production is
more than oilseed production. The amount of water required
for cereal grain production varied from 690 in maize to
850 L for oat. Renault and Wallender (2000) reported about
1,159, 1,408, 710, 2,547 and 2,860 liter of water/kg of
product for wheat, rice, maize, groundnuts and beans,
respectively, for intensive system of production. Most of
the water consumed is used to grow feed (Oltjen 1991).
Barthelemy et al. (1993) reported that 2,752, 710, 542,
2,374, 1,159 and 1,910 litre of water is required to produce
1 kg of each soybean, maize, sorghum, oats, wheat and
barley grain, respectively. A wide variability in water
requirement to produce 1 kg of wheat, barley, sorghum grain
and alfalfa hay from different locations was reported
(Beckett and Oltjen 1993). Water requirement to produce 1
kg product/grain from wheat, soybean and other agricultural
products for developed countries was also reported
(Hoekstra and Chapagain 2007).
Livestock water requirement for drinking and washing/
Water requirement (drinking and washing) estimated for
livestock population of 2003 and 2010 were 16.30 and 16.15
MCM, respectively. Among the livestock species water
requirement for cattle (both indigenous and crossbred) was
higher (10.11 and 9.51 MCM) followed by buffaloes (4.72
and 5.15 MCM) than other livestock species (Table 2).
Demand and supply of feed/fodders and water
Data revealed that dry matter and green fodder will be
deficit by 24.92 and 64.87 %, respectively by year 2025;
concentrate will be deficit by the tune of 60.4 % by the
year 2025 (Table 3). Likewise 146.74 and 128.12 BCM
water is required to produce the green fodder and
concentrate for livestock in year 2010 against 161.81 and
172.04 for green fodder and concentrate production,
respectively, in year 2025. Thus there is a need of 92.08
and 39.40 BCM water to produce green fodder and
concentrate, respectively, to meet livestock needs in year
2010. It is obvious from Table 1 that deficit in green and
dry fodder is increasing every year, while for concentrate
gap is almost static. But this gap is critical and is going to
determine the type of animal and husbandry practices to be
followed in future.
Estimates of livestock water productivity to produce an unit
Estimated water requirement were 475, 2,451 and 3,751
liter for production of 1 liter milk in extensive, semi-
extensive and intensive system of livestock rearing. This
variation may be attributed to types of feed ingredients of
ration fed to animals/livestock and slaughter weight of the
animal. Animal products from industrial systems generally
consume and pollute more ground- and surface-water
resources than animal products from grazing or mixed
systems (Mekonnen and Hoekstra 2012). Reports of
Gerbens-Leens (2013) that globally industrial systems have
the largest blue and grey water foot prints for beef, and
grazing systems have the smallest blue and grey water foot
prints, are on the pattern of present observations. Water
productivity was as low as 0.3 L of milk / m3 of water;
however global water requirement for milk production is
reported to be 1.1 liter/m3 of water (Singh and Kishore
2004). Water productivity estimates in terms of water
requirement were 8,215, 9,338 and 9,680 liter for sheep,
goat and buffalo for 1 kg of meat production. For meat
production the reported water productivity ranged from
0.04–0.07kg/m3 of water (Zimmer and Renult 2003,
Chapagain and Hoekstra 2003, Oki et al. 2003). They
reported requirement of 15,497, 4,043, 6,143 and 900 liter
of water /kg of product from beef, chevon, mutton and milk
production, respectively, in developed countries. The water
requirement to produce animal product i.e. beef and milk
was 13,500 and 790 liters, respectively. This water
requirement to produce 1 kg of food/fodder crop and milk
product varies between the countries. In developing and
underdeveloped world livestock are usually fed on crop
residues requiring less water than those fed on high grain
and green fodder based diet in developed countries. Use of
irrigation water under intensive system of rearing increases
the water requirement to produce animal product. Water
requirement estimates for beef production was 20,864 litre/
kg of meat (Robbins 1987) and 20,559 litre/kg of boneless
beef (Kreith 1991). Water used for beef cattle can be divided
into that drunk by animals that used for producing feed,
and that used for processing the cattle into beef. As per
estimate (Barthelemy et al. 1993) 13,500 litre water is
Table 1. Water requirements (L) to produce 1 kg dry matter of green fodder, protein and energy feeds*
Green fodder Water (L) Protein feeds Water (L) Energy feeds Water (L)
Berseem 454.5 Groundnut 1111.0 Wheat grain 800.0
Lucerne 713.3 Soybean 2000.0 Maize grain 690.0
Oat 312.5 Mustard 1250.0 Barley grain 700.0
Sorghum 267.0 Linseed 1000.0 Oat 850.0
Cowpea 555.0 Mean 1340.0 Mean 760.0
* Values extracted from the data of water applied through irrigation and yield of crop.
October 2014] WATER REQUIREMENTS OF FEED PRODUCTION FOR INDIAN LIVESTOCK 1093
Table 2. Estimates of drinking and washing/cleaning water requirements for different categories of livestock
Livestock Category Year 2003 Year 2010 Projections
Numbers ‘000 Water requirement Numbers ‘000 Water requirement
Crossbred male 0–1 year 1505.92 0.04 1849.30 0.05
1– 3 Years 1493.72 0.06 1834.30 0.08
> 3 Years 188.20 0.01 231.10 0.01
Working 3396.21 0.18 4170.50 0.22
Breeding + Work 475.31 0.03 583.70 0.04
Others 147.64 0.01 181.30 0.01
Crossbred female 4–12 month 2849.67 0.08 3500.40 0.10
1–3 years 3312.91 0.20 4069.40 0.24
Milking 6957.38 0.47 8546.10 0.57
Dry 3132.21 0.16 3847.50 0.20
Heifers 987.51 0.07 1213.00 0.08
Others 236.78 0.01 293.00 0.02
Indigenous male 0–12 months 6743.50 0.17 6053.60 0.15
1–3 years 12515.49 0.52 11235.00 0.47
<3 Years breeding 7750.15 0.40 6957.20 0.36
Working 47728.49 3.20 42845.40 2.87
Breeding + work 7362.62 0.38 6609.30 0.34
Others 667.80 0.03 599.50 0.03
Indigenous female 4–12 month 9313.22 0.28 8360.60 0.25
1–3 years 17341.46 0.72 15567.70 0.65
Milking 24437.86 1.64 21938.20 1.47
Dry 21292.49 1.11 19114.60 1.00
Heifers 3754.54 0.25 3370.50 0.23
Others 1586.44 0.08 1424.20 0.07
Total cattle 185177.52 10.11 174395.30 9.51
Buffalo males 0–12 months 5109.94 0.15 5565.60 0.16
1–3 years 4518.15 0.27 4921.10 0.29
<3 Years breeding 607.06 0.04 661.20 0.04
Working 6603.68 0.44 7192.60 0.48
Breeding + work 2545.29 0.17 2772.30 0.19
Others 212.76 0.01 231.70 0.01
Buffaloes Female 0–1 years 11091.34 0.33 12069.30 0.36
1–3 Years 13358.65 0.79 14546.80 0.87
Milking 31827.80 2.14 34667.10 2.33
Dry 17749.56 1.19 19328.20 1.30
Heifers 3471.66 0.23 3780.40 0.25
Others 832.98 0.04 907.10 0.05
Total buffaloes 97928.87 4.72 106643.30 5.15
<1 year 56222.84 0.14 56970.00 0.14
> 1 year 68134.16 0.48 69041.90 0.48
Total goat Total 124357.00 0.62 126011.90 0.63
Sheep 61469.00 0.43 65716.50 0.46
Pigs 13518.00 0.30 13751.50 0.30
Yaks 65.00 0.00 71.60 0.001
Mithuns 682.00 0.01 436.60 0.01
Horses and ponies 751.00 0.03 682.00 0.03
Mules 176.00 0.01 140.20 0.006
Donkeys 650.00 0.02 479.10 0.01
Camels 488760.20 0.05 438.00 0.03
Total livestock 485002.39 16.30 488760.2 16.15
1094 SINGH ET AL. [Indian Journal of Animal Sciences 84 (10)
Table 3. Water requirement for crop residue, green forage and
concentrate feeds production (projections)
Year Requirement Availability
DM Water (BCM) DM Water (BCM)
Crop residues (DM basis)
2000 337.53 156.78 263.13 122.23
2005 349.82 162.49 272.36 126.51
2010 362.12 168.20 277.27 128.79
2015 374.41 173.91 286.50 133.08
2020 387.32 179.91 290.80 135.08
2025 399.62 185.62 300.02 139.36
Green forages (DM basis)
2000 296.40 136.64 115.35 53.18
2005 307.50 141.76 116.97 53.92
2010 318.30 146.74 118.56 54.66
2015 329.10 151.72 120.18 55.40
2020 340.20 156.83 121.77 56.14
2025 351.00 161.81 123.39 56.88
Concentrate feeds (DM basis)
2000 99.63 98.83 34.74 34.46
2005 114.38 113.47 41.54 41.20
2010 129.15 128.12 48.33 47.94
2015 143.91 142.76 55.13 54.69
2020 158.94 157.67 61.94 61.44
2025 173.43 172.04 68.76 68.21
BCM, Billion cubic meters.
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