The Volumetric Water Consumption of British Milk 2013

Published 26 February 14

The water consumption of a range of dairy production systems was estimated for three contrasting locations in Britain up to the farm gate. The Cranfield Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) systems model was used for this analysis. This model calculates all the resources used to produce a litre of milk. This included direct water consumption (e.g. for drinking, washing, cleaning and feed processing) as well as virtual water in the diet (i.e. water used to grow grass and concentrate feedstuffs).

The average water consumption for a range of dairy production systems shows that the blue water consumption is about 8 litres per kg fat and protein corrected milk. Higher output systems tend to have slightly lower water consumption per unit of output. Although drinking water per head tends to increase as yield and metabolic demand increases, the higher water consumption per head is offset by higher milk output and a lower proportion spent on maintenance.