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Cow by water

Cattle – a sustainable and resilient food system during water scarcity

Water scarcity and drought are recurrent problems in certain areas of Sweden and might constitute serious limitations to future food production. The specific aim of this project is to study if it is possible to markedly reduce, and even eliminate the need for groundwater to lactating cows by changes in watering routines

For several years, groundwater levels have been very low in large parts of Sweden and in combination with drought, the situation has been extreme in some areas that have significant beef and milk production. The purpose of this project is to investigate whether it is possible to significantly reduce the need for groundwater as drinking water for cows by changing the watering routines and perhaps also in the choice of breed. There are several studies indicating that time-regulated access to water and access to only brackish water may not have negative effects on either milk production or animal welfare. Results from other studies of ruminants, indicate that they have a good ability to adapt the function of the kidneys and their evaporative losses so that water economy is better, without losing milk production. We would like to study this in Swedish dairy cows and beef cattle. Our hypothesis is that by introducing at least one of our suggested routines the need for groundwater to cows can be reduced by at least 30 %, maybe even 100 % without compromising production and welfare. The goal is to provide new knowledge so that Swedish water resources can be efficiently used and to help dairy farmers find solutions for good production and animal welfare. This type of knowledge may be of crucial importance for future food production in some parts of Sweden and will improve the sustainability of the whole dairy and beef chain.

The overall goal is to contribute to the development of practices that support a more robust food security and preparedness in Sweden and globally.


Project name

Water scarcity and cattle production




Region Uppsala

RISE role in project


Project start


Three years

Total budget

6 000 000


VÄXA Sverige, Sveriges Lantbruksuniversitet




Project members

Per Peetz Nielsen

Contact person

Per Peetz Nielsen

Senior Forskare

+46 10 516 69 29

Read more about Per Peetz

Contact Per Peetz
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