Ranchers are being urged to test water supplies in their dugouts, after hundreds of cattle and calves were found dead in a grazing pasture near Shamrock on July 7th. 

Lab results released on Thursday confirmed the 200 cattle were killed by a combination of dehydration, poor water quality, and heat.

Sulphate levels in the water were more than three times the lethal limit, at 24,000 milligrams per litre.

Concentrations of 1000 milligrams are enough to cause neurological damage, while levels of 7000 milligrams per litre or more can result in death. 

The amount of total dissolved liquids in the water were measured at 33,400 milligrams per litre.

It's recommended pregnant or lactating cows should not consume water with more than 5,000 milligrams of total dissolved solids per litre, while water with over 7,000 milligrams of dissolved solids per litre is not recommended for any cattle.

Several factors have contributed to higher levels of minerals in some dugouts this year. Dugouts and ponds didn't have much spring run-off this year to dilute the water, and high evaporation levels mixed with low precipitation can cause minerals to become quite concentrated. 

"With not much run-off this spring and high evaporation rates, any minerals in the water will be becoming more concentrated," Livestock Specialist Travis Peardon said. "That is probably as much of a concern as anything with dugouts, especially if sulphates are present. That could be more of a problem than anything really."

Peardon said unfortunately, there's not much that can be done to battle mineral concentrations. 

"Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot you can do to mitigate it." Peardon said. "I guess the best thing is, if you do have mineral issues in the water, have somebody develop a strong mineral plan for you because with sulphates, if they do become too concentrated, cattle don't do very well." 

If producers have any questions regarding livestock water requirements, they are encouraged to contact their local Ministry of Agriculture regional office or the Agricultural Knowledge Centre at 1-866-457-2377.

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