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Farmers warned to check stock water and keep it clean

As seasonal conditions dry off following weeks of hot weather, livestock producers are warned to check stock water supplies regularly and keep troughs and dams well maintained.

“Evaporation has been extremely high in recent weeks due to wind and hot weather and dam levels have been dropping rapidly,” said Brett Littler, Senior Lands Services Officer (Livestock) with Central Tablelands Local Lands Services.

“Welcome storms and showers are forecast in coming days, but they can also increase contamination in dwindling dams by washing manure and other debris into the water.

“Regular monitoring, cleaning and maintenance of water supplies in troughs and dams is critical for livestock health and performance.

“Stock will eat less and reduce weight gain if water quality is poor. Where water is contaminated or restricted, serious health problems may result that can be fatal or very expensive to treat.

“Water also needs to be cool enough drink. If you have small troughs that heat up during the day, try to get some shade over the trough area, or think about giving stock another water source until the weather becomes significantly cooler.

“As the season dries off, many farmers have started to hand feed stock, which can increase the risk of water supply contamination, particularly in nearby troughs.”

Producers are advised to deliver feed at a distance away from the water source, to reduce the likelihood of dust and feed residue ending up in troughs.

“I’ve been involved in many investigations where feedstuffs have contaminated the water supply, and animals have stopped drinking, resulting in serious health issues. It’s not uncommon for chewing stock to drop grain into the trough which then ferments in the water.

“Even a fine film of dust on trough water can make sheep reluctant to drink.

“Keeping the feeding area away from the water supply and regularly checking and cleaning troughs is a simple way to avoid problems.”

In the aftermath of bush fires, Brett Littler also warns that water quality and infrastructure can be severely compromised.

“Inspecting infrastructure should be a priority job following a fire to check for burnt out pumps, damaged pipe lines and holding tanks, and burnt out pumps.

“Rain events that occur straight after a fire can wash heavy loads of debris, ash and dust into dams contaminating water quality.

“After a bushfire, water is the paramount concern. In warm weather stock can survive for a long period without feed, but they need water every day, and their water requirements double during hot weather, particularly when cows and ewes are lactating.”

For further advice on water supplies contact Brett Littler at the Central Tablelands Local Land Services Mudgee office on 02 6378 1700.

Media enquiries: Kylie Krause | 0439 608 370