Water Quality Affects Cattle Production

July 9, 2018


Water is the most important nutrient for cattle. Often, producers overlook this fact. On average, lactating cows and grower/finisher cattle will consume around 20 gallons of water in the summer months or two gallons per 100 pounds of body weight. If the water content is not ideal, cattle will not consume the amount of water that they need. Water is needed for processes such as growth, digestion, reproduction, metabolism, lubricating joints, and regulating body temperature. A poor water source can lead to a decrease in rate of gains, milk production, and overall health.
 
One common contaminant of water is blue-green algae. This is a common contaminant found in standing water such as automatic water troughs or ponds. Blue-green algae is a type of bacteria, and water that is high in bacteria can be toxic to cattle and cause issues such as infertility, foot rot, or low milk production. Blue-green algae thrive in water environments that are stagnant with contaminants such as manure.  Water temperature is also a factor that contributes to water intakes. Cooler water will help cattle maintain a proper body temperature and allow them to have increased water intakes. Shallow ponds or small water troughs will heat up in the summer and lead to lower water intakes. However, deeper ponds or larger tanks that are filled with groundwater will not heat up enough to affect water intake.
 
When it comes to cleaning water troughs, a hard-bristled brush, hose, dish soap, and bleach work best. After draining the trough, a high-pressure nozzle can be used to remove debris on the surface of the trough. Bleach can be used to kill the algae, and dish soap can be used on the hard-bristled brush to scrub any remaining debris from the trough. Once the trough is cleaned, it needs to be rinsed out before refilling to make sure all the soap and bleach is washed out. To determine the contaminant level of pond water, samples can be tested to make sure the water is safe for cattle to drink.
 
Overall, it is essential that cattle be provided with clean, fresh, and cool water to drink. When water intakes are higher in the summer months, it is crucial that cattle are able to meet their water intake requirements to reach their peak performance. Contact your local feed sales specialist with any questions you may have regarding water quality and your cattle!
by Cassidy Curtis
Posted: 7/9/2018 1:53:39 PM by Kristin Petersen | with 0 comments


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