Livestock Water Quality Concerns & Testing Clinic May 4
April 20, 2022 | View PDF
Hoping everyone faired the spring storm. As you begin to prepare to turn livestock out on rangelands, is it important to monitor both rangeland conditions and livestock water sources. Monitoring the quantity of water in your reservoirs, stock ponds, and wells is necessary, however, monitoring the quality of that is also imperative.
There are two main concerns with livestock water quality: elevated total dissolved solids (TDS) and cyanobacteria (blue-green algae). Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, can be problematic in stagnant waters during periods of hot weather. It appears as a green scum on the surface of stagnant waters, and often turns blue when it has dried. When consumed, these algal blooms can be fatal for livestock.
TDS refers to the total amount of minerals, metals, nutrients, and salts that are dissolved in a water source. During times of drought, minimal precipitation results in limited runoff to recharge reservoirs and dilute these salts and solids. Although the recent moisture will aid in recharging these reservoirs, there is still potential for high TDS levels. Water with elevated TDS levels can cause severe dehydration and other complications. It is also possible that some of the salts and solids within the water are present at toxic levels, posing additional risks to livestock health. Because of the elevated risks to livestock health, it is important to test livestock water quality.
MSU Dawson and Richland County Extension Offices will be hosting a Water Testing Clinic in Glendive on Wednesday, May 4 at 9 a.m. in the basement of the Dawson County Courthouse. This is an opportunity to bring in water samples from your livestock water sources to be tested for TDS levels. Please bring your water samples in a clean container such as a plastic water or soda bottle. If you are unable to attend this clinic, TDS testing is always available at the MSU Richland County Extension Office. Please call 406-433-1206 or email [email protected] with any questions.