Toxic water to blame in Sask. cattle deaths

Tests show extremely high levels of both sulfates and total dissolved solids in dugout water killed more than 200 cattle on the Shamrock Grazing Ltd. pasture last week.

Saskatchewan chief veterinary officer Dr. Betty Althouse released the completed test results yesterday, noting that sulfate levels were more than 24,000 milligrams per litre. Concentrations of 1,000 mg per litre can cause neurological problems, and death frequently occurs at levels of 7,000 mg.

Total dissolved solids measured 33,400 mg per litre. Pregnant or lactating cows should not consume water with more than 5,000 mg, and water with levels greater than 7,000 mg should not be used at all.

The high temperatures and dry conditions played a role in creating the extreme levels, Althouse said.

Several more cattle died after the initial discovery and others remain under veterinary care.

The incident highlights the importance of testing water and checking both cattle and water more often when temperatures soar, Althouse said.

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All the dead cattle have now been buried, and the province is assisting with testing other water sources on the pasture.

She added that the ministry is receiving more inquiries about water testing in the wake of the incident.

Animal Protection Services of Saskatchewan continues its own independent investigation into the deaths.

karen.briere@producer.com

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