Water has frequently been referred to as the most essential nutrient consumed by livestock. Water affects all the critical elements of an animal’s growth, development, and production.
Yet, as important as water is, it can also be the most overlooked resource. It is commonly thought that if the water is available, then the job is over, with little consideration given to the quality of the water.
Odds are that you’ve checked out your water troughs and wondered whether the water would be considered drinkable or undrinkable, but you didn’t have any way of measuring the water quality. So, what is “good / poor water quality,” and how can it be measured?
That is the question that was tackled by Dr. Ryan Leiterman, DVM, Crystal Creek Natural, LLC and Dr. David Kolb, DVM, Lodi Veterinary Care, Lodi, Wisconsin. Dr. Kolb and Dr. Leiterman have created a “Water Trough Scorecard” that makes it easy to measure and monitor key water quality factors, using the following tool:
ATP Water Quality Tester
Adenosine Triphosphate, or ATP, is the energy molecule found in all living things, making it a perfect indicator when trying to determine whether a water source is clean or contaminated.
Companies use ATP systems as a rapid test to verify surfaces have been cleaned thoroughly in food manufacturing, healthcare facilities, and to ensure that biofilms are not developing on surfaces that could affect water quality. When residues are left on a surface, or within a water system, they house disease-causing pathogens within the biofilm that they create, causing problems that can affect water quality and compromise the health of the animals.
Water troughs can be measured with an ATP meter and provide an immediate indication of a water trough’s relative hygiene level.
Measuring and Managing Dairy Farm Water Quality
Dr. Leiterman has been using the ATP bioluminescence testing technology for several years to evaluate the hygiene of dairy calf housing and calf feeding equipment and has incorporated water quality testing into Crystal Creek’s monthly “Hygiene Management Audit.” He feels that proper water hygiene monitoring is critical to the health and welfare of the animals and the health of the farm labor.