For more information about the importance of water quality, read: “The Most Essential Nutrient: Water” by Dr. David K Beede of the Department of Animal Science, Michigan State University. The report emphasizes basic information about water nutrition of cows and calves, predicting water intake and requirements, evaluation of water quality, factors affecting water intake, and the practical aspects and assessment of water nutrition management in dairy farms.
Below are interpretation tables included in Dr. Beede's paper.
|pH for cows||7.0||6.8-7.5||Under 5.1 or over 9.0|
|pH for veal calves||6.0-6.4|
|---parts per million (ppm, or mg/liter)---|
|Nitrate as NO3d||34||0-44||Over 100|
|Copper||0.1||0-0.6||Over 0.6 to 1.0|
|Iron||0.8||0-0.3||Over 0.3 (taste,veal)|
|Sodium||22||0-3||Over 20 for veal calves|
|Manganese||0.3||0-0.05||Over 0.05 (taste)|
|Total dissolved solids||368||500 or less||Over 3,000|
|Total bacteria/100 ml||336,300||Under 200||Over 1 million|
|Total coliform/100 ml||933||Less than 1||Over 1 for calves; over 15-20 for cows|
aFor most measurements, averages are from about 350 samples; most samples taken from water supplies in farms with suspected animal health or production problems.
bBased primarily on criteria for water acceptable for human consumption.
cBased primarily on research literature and field experiences.
dShould not be consumed by human infants if over 44 ppm NO3 or 10 ppm NO3-N.
eIf pollution is from human wastes, fecal coliform should exceed fecal streptococcus by several times. If the pollution is from an animal source, streptococcus should exceed coliform in refrigerated samples analyzed soon after sampling.
*Free or residual chlorine concentrations up to 0.5 to 1.0 ppm have not affected ruminants adversely. Municipal water supplies with 0.2 to 0.5 ppm have been used successfully. Swimming pool water with 1.0 ppm, or 3 to 5 ppm chlorine in farm systems with short contact time have caused no apparent problems for cattle.
|<1,000 (fresh water)||Presents no serious burden to livestock.|
|1,000-2,999 (slightly saline)||Should not affect health or performance, but may cause temporary mild diarrhea.|
|3,000-4,999 (moderately saline)||Generally satisfactory but may cause diarrhea, especially upon initial consumption.|
|5,000- 6,999 (saline)||Can be used with reasonable safety for adult ruminants. Should be avoided for pregnant animals and baby calves.|
|7,000-10,000 (very saline)||Should be avoided if possible. Pregnant, lactating, stressed or young animals can be affected negatively.|
|>10,000 (approaching brine)||Unsafe, should not be used under any conditions.|
*TDS and salinity are commonly used synonymous terms. NRC (1974)
|Nitrate (NO3), ppm||Guidelines|
|0-44||Safe for consumption by ruminants.|
|45-132||Generally safe in balanced diets with low nitrate feeds.|
|133-220||Could be harmful if consumed over long periods of time.|
|221-660||Cattle at risk and possible death losses.|
|Over, 661||Unsafe; possible death losses and should not be used as a source of water.|
* NRC, 1974