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Bad Water Hurting Some SD Cattle

Charles Michael Ray

There may be something in the water and it’s causing concerns for livestock producers.  Officials say the summer heat and dry conditions can impact surface water quality in stock dams and other water sources. They are urging producers to test places where livestock drink.

Officials with South Dakota State University Extension say poor water quality is leading to sick cattle herds across South Dakota. Robin Salverson is an Extension Cow-Calf Specialist. She says low rain fall in some areas is causing high sulfate levels in dams and creeks. This can lead to cattle’s blindness, polio and even death. The high levels can also affect weight gain and eating habits. Salverson says this problem can put producers in a really difficult situation.

“Water intake by those animals, cows, calves and yearlings are probably a lot more that what people think and if we want to keep that animal performance there they need their water. We all know how critical water is and you can have all the grass in the world but if you don’t have water that grass does nothing for you. So again if you have to haul it in or pipe it in or move your cattle, I just highly encourage you to do that,” says Salverson.

Salverson says the hot summer temperatures only add to the stress the animals are under. She says most bad water cases were seen in western South Dakota. However she suggests that producers across the state should still get their water tested.