2011-09-08 / Community News

Water Quality Issues for Lee County Beef Cattle

With the dry times the county is experiencing, it is imperative that as a beef cattle producer that the cattle under our care have enough good water to consume. Poor water quality can lower the amount of nutrients that are taken in by the animal. A loss of nutrients will drop the production of the animal and lower the producer’s profits.

Most dry cows need about eight to ten gallons of water daily. Cows that are in their last three months of pregnancy may drink up to 25 gallons daily when the temperature is 100 degrees or higher. Cows that are lactating need about five times as much water as the volume of milk produced.

Beef cattle tolerance of minerals in the water depends on many factors: type of beef cattle, age, diet, and physiological condition of the animal, season, climate and kind of salts in the water. Beef cattle may drink less if the water has bad taste to them.

If you notice that the beef cattle are not consuming enough water, and are searching for other sources, that could be a sign that a water sample should be taken and analyzed for composition. If the water sample results return high in salts or other minerals, that could deter the animals from consuming, then it would be time to consider other sources of water for the animals.

Samples should be collected in a new clean, plastic bottle with a screw cap. A new eight-ounce plastic, disposable baby bottle is highly recommended. Please note that every lab does not test for bacteria, pesticides, or petrochemicals. Clearly identify each container with a simple sample I.D., matched to those used on the front side of the submission form. Water samples can be mailed. When mailing, place bottles in a box packed loosely with soft packing material to prevent crushing. Avoid glass containers, as boron concentrations may change, and glass has higher potential for breakage.

Water Sample test forms may be obtained in the Lee County Texas AgriLife Extension Office at 310 South Grimes Street in Giddings.

Keeton Ehrig is the County Extension Agent, Agriculture and Natural Resources, in Lee County. He can be reached at (979) 542-2753.

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