Water for livestock: interpreting water quality tests

NSW DPI - Dr Greg Curran

Type: PDF
Knowledge level: Introductory

Farm Table says:

Informative facts on water quality and understanding safe levels of pH, salinity and chloride. Interesting to find out that water high in saline is dangerous to livestock.

This fact sheet delivers information on the suitability of water for livestock consumption and how to interpret water tests to ensure water sources are suitable for livestock to access.

The items covered in this article were:

• What you should test for in water sources

• Salt poisoning

• Other water quality tests

• Understanding the results of water quality tests

Key points were as follows:

• When conducting water quality tests, the three main items that should be tested are pH, salinity and chloride levels.

• Water that is high in saline can be dangerous to livestock and cause salt poisoning. When introducing livestock to new water sources, look out for signs such as diarrhoea as it can indicate an issue with the water quality.

• The acceptable levels of water quality testing are as follows:

1) pH levels should be in the range of 6.5 – 8.5

2) Salinity levels should be below 6300 (Salinity is the sum of all mineral salts present in the water, including sodium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, sulfate and carbonate)

3) Chloride levels should be no higher than 4000 mg/L

4) For a full table on interpreting water quality test results, click here and see page 4.

• Other water tests that are available include:

1) Scan (a test is available which measures 19 different elements in water)

2) Key anions (a test to measure key anions that may affect livestock health and productivity – chloride, sulfate, phosphate and nitrite)

3) Nitrogen (a test for ammonia and nitrate)

2014 - Australia - NSW DPI - Dr Greg Curran
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