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- Paul Tripp

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Drought conditions can compromise water quality in ponds and dugouts, causing elevated levels of salts, minerals and bacteria.....

    FARGO, N.D. (NDSU) - Drought conditions can compromise water quality in ponds and dugouts, causing elevated levels of salts, minerals and bacteria.

    "Because the majority of the state is experiencing some level of drought, we recommend that livestock producers test water quality prior to livestock turnout," North Dakota State University Extension Service livestock environmental stewardship specialist Miranda Meehan says. "The risk of problems is greater in areas of the state that had poor water quality in 2016."

    Poor water quality can impact livestock health negatively, according to Gerald Stokka, NDSU Extension veterinarian and livestock stewardship specialist.

    "At a minimum, it can result in decreased water consumption, reducing feed
intake and gains," he says. "However, elevated levels of some salts and bacteria can result in severe illness and even death."

    TDS measure salts. These levels should be less than 5,000 parts per million (ppm) for most classes of grazing livestock. Elevated levels of TDS may not be harmful to livestock health.

    "However, due to our geology in North Dakota, water with high TDS often have high sulfate levels," Mostrom says.

    High levels of sulfate can reduce copper availability in the diet.

    Elevated NDSU veterinary toxicologist Michelle Mostrom recommends water sources be tested for total dissolved solids (TDS), sulfates and nitrates. levels of sulfates may cause loose stool, whereas very high levels of sulfate
can induce central nervous system problems and polioencephelomalacia, a brain
disorder in cattle.

    Sulfate recommendations are less than 500 ppm for calves and less than 1,000 ppm for adult cattle.

    Nitrate in itself is not toxic to animals, but at elevated levels, it causes nitrate poisoning. Water sources are at risk of contamination if they receive runoff from fields and confined feeding operations that contain elevated levels of nitrogen.

    Water with elevated nutrient levels also are at a higher risk for blue-green algae blooms in periods of hot, dry weather. Some species of blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) contain toxins that can be deadly when livestock and wildlife consume them.

    "Monitoring water quality throughout the grazing season is important because the quality changes in response to climate and environmental conditions," Meehan says. "What is especially important is to keep a close eye on water quality during drought when using a shallow water source and sources with a history of water quality issues."

    Many commercial laboratories and the NDSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory
provide testing for livestock water quality and specialized testing. The cost of a basic water quality test is approximately $25. Contact a county office of the NDSU Extension Service for a list of commercial laboratories in the state.

    If concerned about livestock diseases caused by contaminated drinking water, contact your local veterinarian, the NDSU Extension veterinarian, or the NDSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at 701-231-8307 or


    BISMARCK, ND (NDDA) - Field days have been scheduled at six North Dakota sites to collect and redistribute flea beetles that eat leafy spurge. Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring says those interested in acquiring the flea beetles to release on their own property can collect them from established populations at the field day sites.

    "Leafy spurge continues to be one of North Dakota's worst noxious weeds," Goehring said. "Using the flea beetles for biological control, as part of an integrated pest management plan, has proven to be an effective tool in combatting leafy spurge infestations."

    The field days are scheduled as follows:

    - 10:30 a.m. MT, Thursday, June 15 - Stark County - Directions: from I-94 Business Loop East, turn south on Energy Drive. Just after crossing the railroad tracks, turn east onto Lehigh Drive. Follow Lehigh Drive for a half-mile and park in the large opening near the railroad crossing. There will be signs along the way to direct you.

    - 11 a.m. CT, Wednesday, June 21 - Stutsman County - 1508 4th St. NW, Jamestown.

    - 10 a.m. MT, Thursday, June 22 - Grant County - Lake Tschida Boy Scout Camp.

    - 10 a.m. & 1 p.m. MT, Tuesday, June 27 - Billings County - Wannagan Creek Road north of Medora.

    - 10 a.m. & 1 p.m. MT, Thursday, June 29 - Billings County - Franks Creek Road north of Fryburg.

    - Noon CT, Thursday, June 29 - Benson County - Directions: ½ Mile East of the Pleasant Lake Rest area along U.S. Highway 2. Turn south onto gravel road for 100 feet. Terrain is hilly, so plan to do some walking to collect. Contact Jerry at the Dept. of Trust Lands at 701-328-2800 or, or the Benson County Weed Officer 740-0801

    - 10 a.m. & 1 p.m. MT, Wednesday, July 5 - Billings County - Wannagan Creek Road north of Medora.

    - 10 a.m. & 1 p.m. MT, Thursday, July 6 - Billings County - Franks Creek Road north of Fryburg.

    All attendees are asked to help collect and all beetles collected are distributed evenly. Attendees should bring a cooler with ice packs to transport the flea beetles, and are asked to bring sweep nets if they have them.

    More information and specific directions to field day sites are available from Lane Kozel at (701) 328-2250.

    The field days are co-hosted by the North Dakota Department of Agriculture, the North Dakota Department of Trust Lands, and the weed boards of Stark, Stutsman, Grant, Billings and Benson counties.



   (Copyright 2017 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)


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