Your Animals Are Only as Healthy as The Water They Drink
Wednesday, April 15, 2020
There is a direct correlation between the amount of water an animal drinks to its overall health. A Holstein cow needs up to 50 gallons of clean water a day; more while lactating. When dairy cows don't drink as much as they should their output declines. A good practice for farmers is to track the amount of water their cows consume and compare it to the amount of milk produced. If the animals aren’t drinking as much as they should, it may be a symptom of poor water quality.
The same reasoning can be applied to a pig farm. A pig farmer measures how much water his animals drink and compares it to the amount of feed consumed. If they find the consumption is low, it's time to test the water.
You could use a public health department or Ag extension to get your water tested. It takes time for test results to come back from a lab and a week of poor water can have a possible negative exponential effect on your herd. The better option is to monitor the water quality yourself. That way it’s possible to implement solutions as problems arise.
Here are some of the variables you can track in your water supply after installing a monitoring system.
  • Mineral content: minerals like calcium and magnesium in their salt forms (bicarbonate) may accumulate inside unfiltered cold water lines. This can become a breeding ground for bacteria.

  • Pathogens: Wells are susceptible to contamination from organic sources. Without filtration, microbes can thrive in your water supply.

  • Iron: It’s a catalyst for mineral deposit build up. Too much can also inhibit the efficacy of some antibiotics. A level of 10 ppm puts off a strong odor and turns animals away.

  • Chloride:a high level makes water taste too salty for animals to drink. Anything higher than 500ppm should be addressed.

  • pH: The pH of pure water is 7. A consumable range is between 6.5 and 8.5. Anything higher has corrosive effects on water systems.
Good animal husbandry centers around knowing the conditions of your herd, feed, and water at all times. It’s easier to fix a problem the sooner you know it exists. Monitoring systems are the key to getting info on time.