The Most Important Nutrient*
As temperatures increase, so does the water requirement of our livestock. Most livestock owners know the nutrient content of the grains and forages they are feeding their livestock and can tell you if the feedstuff is low, medium or high quality. Do you know how your livestock water quality measures up? Water is the most essential of all nutrients required for our livestock but often other than making sure that water is available in sufficient quantity, little thought is given to the quality of that water.
However the quantity of water consumed can be influenced by quality factors such as odor, taste, physical and chemical properties, mineral content, toxic compounds and microbial contamination. If quality is not adequate then consumption decreases which can affect animal performance and health.
Some of the common parameters included in a water quality lab analysis includes: pH, total dissolved solids, nitrate nitrogen, sulfate, hardness, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, copper, manganese, zinc and iron. If a water quality problem is suspected it is also useful to know the total coliform bacteria content and the E. coli bacteria content.
A final consideration that may or may not be defined as water quality but can definitely influence water consumption is water temperature. Cattle and probably other livestock species as well, prefer drinking water at temperatures between 40 and 65 degrees F. When the water temperature gets above 80 degrees F intake often decreases.
For more information about water quality or where to get a water quality test, contact your local Extension office or see OSU Extension
* Excerpted from:”Livestock need good quality drinking Water” By Rory Lewandowski, Extension Educator Wayne County. Dairy Herd Management