South Georgia Crop News

Crop News Covering Crisp, Turner, Worth, and Wilcox Counties

Water Quality Issues for Grazing Cattle

Wilcox County Extension Agent Tim Smith provided the following information.

There have been reports of cattle being found dead near ponds and now is a good time to keep an eye on ponds where cattle have access. During drought and when the temperatures are really hot pond quality can deteriorate rapidly. First when there is not much rain to keep ponds flushed and the evaporation can concentrate nutrients in the water. This along with the warm water temps can cause some really bad algae to grow (bloom) very quickly. When checking ponds, watch for scum floating on top of the water which can range in color from greenish to reddish in color. If there is a breeze, look on the downwind side of the pond for the scum.

There are three different toxins produced by blue-green algae. The first can cause almost instant death to cattle, pets and wildlife and the second can damage the internal organs and cause animals to get sick within several days. The third type can cause skin irritation when animals wade in a contaminated pond. If animals are found dead or sick it is best to contact your veterinarian to determine what may be causing the illness. If algae toxins are suspected an alternative water supply and even preventing the animals from entering the water is suggested. Contact your Extension office and have a sample of you pond water checked for algae toxins. The algae itself can be controlled by using copper sulfate.

Ponds are not the only place that these algae can grow. Check watering tanks for algae growths as well and if you see algae growing in the tank, it will be a good time to clean the tank and treat it with copper at .5 to 1 ppm using products like Stocktrine II or Stockplex.