Livestock Water Quality

          Hot weather has increased evaporation rates of surface water for livestock and wildlife. While water supplies and availability may not be as short as in the previous few years, water quality can still be an issue. Evaporation concentrates things like sulfates and various salts and other dissolved solids. Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) and sulfates are two common water quality parameters that commonly cause poor growth, poor breeding rates, and even death in cattle.

Do you know what these water quality factors are in your livestock water? They can be and often are above-recommended levels in both surface water and well water in western North Dakota. I have testing equipment at the Burke County NDSU Extension Office here in Bowbells. Bring in a sample and I can test it for you or I can come out to your location. Just give me a call at 701-377-2927.

Another issue that can cause sudden losses of livestock is cyanobacteria or blue-green algae poisoning. I have seen small areas of this blue-green algae in wetland sloughs in the county during the past week. The scum from cyanobacteria is often seen concentrated on the downwind sides of a waterbody and is sky blue in color. If you have sudden livestock losses near a waterbody or observe dead wildlife around a water source, cyanobacteria should be suspected.

Make sure you check water sources before moving livestock into a new area.