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Estimated use of water in the United States in 1990
Livestock Water Use

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Livestock water use includes water for livestock, feed lots, dairies, fish farms, and other on-farm needs. The "Livestock category" includes livestock water use, which is defined as water associated with the production of red meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and wool; and animal specialities water use, which is defined as water use associated with the production of fish in captivity (except fish hatcheries), furbearing animals in captivity, horses, rabbits, and pets (Office of Management and Budget, 1987, p.27-29). A few States, such as Arkansas, Oregon, and California, have some offstream fish hatcheries that are included in the commercial category in this report. Water used instream for fish hatcheries is not included in this report.

Livestock use in this report is equivalent to the livestock category listed under "Livestock" or "Rural use" in previous water-use circulars in this series. In this report, animal specialties are separated from livestock activities because of the large increase in fish farming water use. Fish farms are pri marily engaged in the production of food fish under controlled feeding, sanitation, and harvesting procedures (Office of Management and Budget, 1987, p.29). Most water used for fish farms is required to maintain acceptable pond levels and water quality.

The quantity of surface water and ground water withdrawn for use by livestock was estimated from the numbers of animals in a county. The livestock and poultry numbers are available in most States from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Crop and Livestock Reporting Service or the Cooperative Extension Service. The number of each type of animal in each county was multiplied by an average water use per animal to obtain the water-use estimate. The Crop and Livestock Reporting Service or the Cooperative Extension Service generally have pond acreage for fish farms. Water use is estimated by multiplying pond acreage by an application rate. In some States, water use for fish farms is reported under a permit system.

The uncertainties in the livestock water-use estimates include difficulties in determining the sources of water and great variations in estimates of consumptive use. Consumptive use estimates generally were based on co efficients ranging from 10 to 100 percent of withdrawals. The quantity of water withdrawn for total livestock purposes (livestock, animal specialties) during 1990 was an estimated 4,500 Mgal/d (table 17: water-resources regions, and table 18: States), or less than 1 percent more than withdrawn during 1985. Several States, including Louisiana and North Carolina, reported a significant increase in animal specialties water use, primarily fish farming. Idaho reported a significant decrease based on more reliable information. Total livestock use represents 1 percent of total freshwater use for all offstream categories.

The source and disposition of water for total livestock are shown in the pie charts below (or as a GIF file, or PostScript file (93Kb)). Ground water was the source for about 60 percent of with drawals for total livestock use, and surface water was the source for the re maining 40 percent. The consumptive use of water for total livestock during 1990 was about 3,040 Mgal/d, or 68 percent of withdrawals for total livestock use.

The Lower Mississippi and Pacific Northwest water-resources regions had the most water withdrawn for total livestock (figure 18 (GIF file) (or as a PostScript file (620Kb)) and accounted for nearly 38 percent of the Nation's total livestock use. The Missouri Basin and Arkansas-White-Red regions had the most water withdrawn for livestock, and the Lower Mississippi and Pacific Northwest regions had the most water withdrawn for animal specialties. By State, Idaho and Louisiana used the most water for total livestock (figure 19 (GIF file) (or as a PostScript file (508Kb))); Louisiana, Idaho, and Mississippi accounted for 64 percent of the Nation's animal specialties water use, largely because of fish farming.

Livestock water-use pie charts


USGS Water Use in the United States

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