Check water quality

By Country News

As the dry seasonal conditions continue, Agriculture Victoria is advising producers to re-assess and double-check their farm-water budgets and plans.

Agriculture Victoria animal industries development officer Richard Smith said availability and quality of water were key factors for productivity, health and welfare of livestock.

‘‘Livestock water requirements vary and can be influenced by type/class of stock, activity level, climate and environmental conditions, feed, and water,’’ Mr Smith said.

During dry seasonal conditions, stock water requirements will increase if producers are feeding fibrous and less digestible feed or by-products according to Agriculture Victoria.

Mr Smith also recommends producers monitor the proportion of dissolved salts in any water source, as it is the main factor influencing water quality.

‘‘The maximum salt concentration for healthy production for dairy cattle is 2500ppm (parts per million), higher levels will cause decline in production and impact animal health,’’ Mr Smith said.

‘‘During summer and early autumn, the rate of water evaporation can result in a significant increase in dam salt concentration.

‘‘If you are also feeding salt-based licks or by-products, you will need to factor in their salt components.

‘‘High salt content will increase water intake, and can cause abdominal pain, loss of appetite, diarrhoea and increased urination.

‘‘Excessive salt concentration can cause death within six to 24 hours.’’

Producers also needed to be aware of the risk of high sediment loads and pollution, as manure, dust, and vegetation were blown or deposited into the water body, Agriculture Victoria said, with the unpleasant smell reducing the appeal to stock, therefore reducing uptake.

■For information regarding water testing laboratories, go to: agriculture.vic.gov.au and search for ‘water quality testing’, or phone Richard Smith on 0436 815 251 or email: [email protected]

■For more information about support for dairy farmers preparing for dry seasonal conditions, phone Brett Davidson on (03) 5833 5206 or visit: agriculture.vic.gov.au/dryseasons