Livestock Extension

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Water

Water is an important, but often overlooked, nutrient. Livestock water requirements are affected by many factors including, size, productivity, diet and environmental conditions. Good water quality and cleanliness can increase water intake and improve livestock production.

Cows and stock pond

Livestock Water Requirements
Water is an important, but often overlooked, nutrient. Livestock water requirements are affected by many factors including, size, productivity, diet and environmental conditions. Limited access or reduced water consumption can result in dehydration, which can be fatal to livestock.

Livestock Water Quality
Good water quality and cleanliness can increase water intake and improve livestock production. Low-quality water has reduced palatability and may be toxic to livestock. Water quality may be compromised by many factors including pH, salts, sulfates, nitrates, pathogenic microorganisms, chemicals and industrial products.

Cyanobacteria Poisoning (Blue-green Algae)
Drinking water from stagnant ponds and dugouts during hot, dry weather can cause sudden death in animals. This water can contain certain species of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) that are toxic. Cyanobacteria produce neuro and liver toxins that are poisonous to nearly all livestock, wildlife and humans.

Livestock Water Testing Guidelines
This handout outlines the steps to collect a water sample to conduct a livestock water screen and test for cyanobacteria. It also includes information on the testing labs in North Dakota.

Water Quality of Runoff From Beef Cattle Feedlots
Runoff from feedlot may cause surface and groundwater pollution. Knowledge of runoff quality from beef cattle feedlot pens would be useful to design effective management practices to protect water quality.

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