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Gardening and raising animals takes a lot of water. Even a small garden can take 10 to 20 gallons a day in water, and every animal you own will add to the water consumption.
Good soil holds water better than poor soil. Well-grown gardens hold water better than unkempt poorly growing ones - the leaves shade the ground and hold the moisture better.
Smart watering systems for animals mean less waste of water. Some animals just waste a lot of water, and there isn't anything you can do about that. But for others, the right kind of waterers can help a lot.
If you live in an area where water supplies are limited or costly, you'll want to consider water in deciding what you are going to grow and raise. Some crops require more water than others (melons and cukes take a lot, for example). Some animals waste more than others - ducks waste more water than chickens.
- No-spill containers will help to conserve water. Broad base dog dishes work for a variety of animals.
- Water containers that are large enough to meet a daily need, but not so large that the animals will poop in the containers, can help conserve water.
- Smaller containers for ducks - a kiddie pool is nice, but Muscovy ducks can do well with a couple of plastic dish pans. Duck water should be changed daily in small containers, they tend to foul it pretty quickly. Use the fouled water to water your garden or lawn.
- If you use water bottles with a metal bearing nipple, make sure they do not leak.
- Don't hang feeders over waterers, especially with messy eaters. You'll want to locate the water well away from the feed for chickens, or they'll throw feed in the water. Especially important for stacked cages where feed from above may foul water below.
- Make sure auto-watering systems are tight, and don't have leaks.
Conserving water in the garden can be high tech, or low tech.
- Water when it is cool out, to lose less to evaporation.
- Use mulch to hold in moisture - leaves, bark, grass clippings, straw, etc.
- Cover in plastic or landscape mat (careful, this can make the soil very hot!). This holds in moisture.
- Plant plants close together, and thin as they grow. This works great with carrots, lettuce, beets, spinach, etc, because you can use the thinnings. Planting them close conserves the moisture in the soil better.
- Make sure your beds are shaped to hold the water, so it does not run off.
- Drip water systems can help reduce water needs, but are fairly expensive to install.
- Watch your systems for leaks.
Common sense is your best bet to conserve water. Conserving water usually saves time, and money, so it is well worth doing even if you are in an area that has plenty of water available.