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What is the Quality of the Water your Livestock is Drinking?

Regular testing of your water supply and cleaning of water tanks will improve the quality of water your livestock are drinking, reducing stress in the animal and ensuring they are fit and healthy.

Drought or no drought, your livestock needs consistent water supplies year-round. We don’t need to tell you this. If you’re reading this article, you are well aware of the demand for water to keep your livestock healthy and, ultimately, sellable.

For most farmers, bore systems are the key source of your livestock water. Holding tanks help you store water to provide a steady supply, and for containment areas, top up water troughs.

Too often Pristine Water Systems are called out to properties where water tanks are neglected, or the quality of the water is unknown. Calcium build-up, inches thick sediment, foul smelling and even stagnant water. It’s your responsibility to ensure that the water supply is suitable for your livestock. The cleaner the water source, the healthier the animal. And that means a better return for your effort!


Tip 1: Regular Checking of Water Quality

Extended dry periods can change the quality of your water supply. Whether that is from bore, creeks or dams. Not only can sediment build-up as water levels fall, but an increase in minerals and salinity (salt).

Conducting some simple tests regularly, and particularly during extended dry spells, will keep you informed on the quality of your water supply. More importantly, of the water stored in your tanks. Pristine Water Systems can conduct these tests onsite and can even provide certain Test kits that you can do yourself. These tests include:

  • pH
  • TDS
  • Total Hardness
  • Iron


More specific water tests can be conducted through your local Pristine Water Systems operator to define a broad scope of minerals and elements that can affect the quality of water. The following table is a guideline of the maximum levels for the various minerals and elements suitable for livestock water supply:


Rainwater (mg/L)

Upper Limit (mg/L)




> 1000

Phosphorous deficiency, poor growth, soft bones, and fractures, infertility



> 500

Scouring and diarrhoea




>1500 nitrate,

>30 nitrite

Vomiting, convulsions, death








Phosphorous deficiency, poor growth, soft bones and fractures, infertility




Diarrhoea, anaemia, poor coordination




Liver damage and jaundice, copper accumulation in the liver




Tooth damage and bone lesions



Low toxicity

Anaemia, lethargy, lowered feed intake, reduced weight gain

Lead (notifiable disease)



Reduced coordination, blindness, going off feed

Molybdenum (related to copper)



Scouring and loss of condition. Infertility, skeletal disorders, testicular damage.

Source: Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council, 2000, paper, Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for fresh and marine water quality, Paper No. 4, Volume 3.

There are different levels of Salt and TDS (Total Dissolvable Solids) recommended for livestock. The following table defines those:

Stock type

EC (µS/cm)

TDS (mg/L)

Mature Sheep



Nursing Ewes



Weaner lambs



Mature cattle



Lactating cattle



Weaner calves



Source: Agriculture Victoria, 2016, Managing farm water supplies

Contact Pristine Water Systems today if you need assistance.


Tip 2: Cleaning of Water Storage Tanks & Troughs

Water pumped up from Bore, Dams or Creeks inevitably brings sediment and other elements. When the water settles in storage tanks, these heavier elements sink to the bottom where they build up over time.

Depending on your water source, the quality of the water and the frequency in which you are filling up your tank, you need to clean out the unwanted build-up on a regular basis. This might be every 6-months, or every 2 to 3 years.

As this photo depicts, large calcium or sediment deposits on the bottom of the tank can affect the quality of the water, causing distress in your livestock as they refuse to drink poorer quality water.

In this example, the tank was cleaned when it was empty. But in most cases, we will remove the build-up from the bottom of the tank whilst it has water in it. And, with minimal water loss!!

We recommend that you check your tanks every 6-months, evaluating the build-up of sediment on the bottom. If you are also checking the quality of the water with the above-mentioned test kits, you can all Pristine Water Systems when your tank is in need of maintenance.

Water Troughs will also experience a build-up of sediment and are perfect breeding grounds for bacteria that can ultimately be harmful to your livestock. Regularly cleaning and disinfecting these will ensure healthier animals, providing opportunity for greater yields.


Don’t let your livestock suffer because you haven’t cleaned your water storage tanks or you’re providing poor quality water. Establish a plan on how to check and maintain your water storage and water supply systems. And if in doubt, call Pristine Water Systems.

If you would like some assistance with your water storage maintenance, our local operators will be only too happy to help. You can find your local operator using our Operator Locator search facility at the top of this webpage.

Or use the contact form below and one of our friendly Pristine Water System operators will be in touch.

Please contact with your enquiry