The Alltech Feeding Times Issue 34 - Summer 2021 Summer 2021 - Page 12

WATER QUALITY AND CONCERNS FOR BEEF CATTLE

Water is the most critical nutrient but is often overlooked for its importance and contribution to animal nutrition . Cattle require an adequate , available supply of fresh water to enable the metabolic processes in their bodies . Understanding issues influencing water quality and intake is vital to beef herd nutrition and management . An important task is to have water tested to make informed nutrition decisions for the cattle under your care .
Sample water for laboratory analysis using a clean plastic container . The container then needs to be rinsed repeatedly with the water that is to be tested . Samples must come from the site of discharge into the tank or trough and should not be collected by dipping into the tank directly . This helps to avoid contamination by feed , saliva or other pollutants . Exceptions to this procedure would be if sampling a stock dam , stream or pond .
Water quality and consumption
Water quality can affect how much is consumed and the overall health of the herd . Odors or tastes can influence water intake , which will also impact feed intake , weight gain , reproduction and health . Many tastes and odors come from characteristics that can be evaluated in a simple water test . The amount of water consumed varies from one animal to the next . Age , stage of production , type of ration and weather all contribute to how much water is needed and consumed .
The components typically evaluated in a water quality analysis include :
• Physical and chemical properties
• The concentration of macro- and micro-minerals
• The presence of toxic compounds
• Microbial contamination
These factors can affect the palatability of drinking water and even the animal ’ s digestive and physiological functions .
Is the water provided clean ? This might be an elementary question , but it is as essential for water quality as anything else . The common adage comes to mind : “ If you wouldn ’ t drink it , why make your animals drink it ?” This concept reinforces the importance of supplying cattle with a clean source of water . Cleaning water troughs and tanks at regular intervals to avoid the build-up of impurities or the growth of organisms will encourage consumption and keep issues associated with unclean water at bay . Excessive amounts of minerals dissolved in the water can be detrimental and can create an opportunity for mineral antagonism . Antagonists bind with free trace elements , preventing their absorption and leading to secondary deficiencies . Trace minerals provided in an organic form are more bioavailable to the animal and less apt to interact with antagonists .
Salinity
Salinity , often referred to as total dissolved solids ( TDS ), is a measure of the total salts suspended in the water . High TDS levels are an indicator of poor-quality water .
12 THE FEEDING TIMES