Groundwater or well water poses significant risk to your animal’s health because quite often they contain high concentrations of heavy metals such as manganese, iron, lead, copper and zinc. Other elements such as sodium, sulfates, nitrates, nitrites and hardness also impact water quality.
Clean water improves gut health, increases production and improves feed conversion. Water does so much more for your animals too. Water helps regulate body temperature, dispose or eliminate waste improves digestion, deliver nutrients, as well as protecting the immune system.
Establishing a water quality program that addresses water quality, waterline maintenance, and sanitation insures consistent great water for every animal every day.
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The average levels of sulfates should be 125 mg/l. Higher levels in excess of 250 mg/l can cause a laxative effect on the animal. This can result in lower weight gain, lower feed consumption and possible dehydration.
The acidity or alkalinity of water is expressed as its pH level. Neutral water (that which is neither acid nor alkaline) has a pH of 7. Acidic water has a pH lower than 7 and alkaline water has a pH greater than 7. Well water normally has a pH in the range from 6.8 to 7.8, although it is not uncommon for the pH to be much higher or lower. Acidic drinking water in the range of 5 to 6 can have a positive effect on digestion and nutrient uptake. Drinking water with pH levels under 5 that includes harsh acidifiers may corrode watering equipment and may impede the effectiveness of certain pharma products and vaccines.
High sulfate in water is usually a natural problem. The primary issue with excessive sulfate levels in animal drinking water is its laxative effect. Animals given a source of drinking water with high sulfate levels may experience a temporary laxative effect until becoming acclimated to the water. High sulfate may also impart a bitter taste to water that can result in reduced water intake. Sulfate levels greater than 50 ppm may affect performance when sodium, magnesium or chloride levels are high.
Iron will stain almost everything it contacts, and it is a common water quality issue. Iron can promote E. Coli and Pseudomonas bacteria. Iron also can impact taste and palatability. Build-ups of iron in water lines impede water flow and water availability for animals. While recent studies indicate that iron in the water does not appear to affect animal health, we have seen an increase in water consumption when removing Iron completely. Iron bacteria are more likely to thrive in water with high Iron concentrations. As a result, biofilm buildup can occur, which can obstruct nipple drinkers and promote pathogen proliferation.
Although hard water may cause stains, leave residues, or cause other physical problems in water-handling equipment such as buildup of scale and other deposits, hard water has not been demonstrated to have either a positive or negative impact on livestock performance. Calcium and magnesium salts cause the water to be “hard” and can lead to scale and sludge buildup within water lines. Hardness reduces the effectiveness of soaps, disinfectants and the administration of some medications. The harder the water, the quicker bio-films and residues from medications will build up.