Laboratory testing has been completed on water from the dugout used by approximately 200 cattle that died on a pasture operated by Shamrock Grazing Ltd. late last week.

The water testing, as well as testing of affected animals, confirms that poor quality water, hot weather and dehydration are major factors in this case.

Provincial Veterinarian Dr Betty Althouse says the results showed very high sulphate levels.

"Over 24,000 milligrammes per litre," she said. "To put that into context animals can show clinical signs at as low as 1,000 and often neurological and death at 7,000, so three to four times that level, so incredibly high level of sulphate. Looking at the salts in the water there were over 34,000 milligrammes per litre and that really is comparable to salt water."     

Althouse acknowledges since the situation occurred producers have been checking water sources on their own properties and should continue to do so.

"They may look fine for a few days, then there may be sudden deaths," Althouse added. "It's not like you are going to see some die one day and some the next. It does tend to be a sudden and catastrophic event. So I think that would make it very challenging to pickup or prevent in many ways because I don't think any of us were really prepared for the level of quality problems as there was in that water."        

Producers with questions on water testing etc can contact their local Ministry of Agriculture Regional Office or the Agricultural Knowledge Centre ( 1-866-457-2377). 

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