Correlation Between Water Mineral Content andProduction Parameters in Dairy Cattle

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Proceedings Western Section American Society of Animal Science



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A survey of dairy herd drinking water was performed at 75 dairies in Utah and Idaho, and mineral content in the water was correlated with production parameters from Provo Dairy Herd Improvement Association (DHIA). Two water samples, taken 30 to 60 d apart, were obtained from a single source of the herd drinking water at each dairy, analyzed for minerals, and averaged. The water was analyzed for Ag, Al, As, B, Ba, Be, Ca, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, K, Li, Mg, Mn, Mo, Na, Ni, P, Pb, Sb, Se, Si, Sn, Sr, Tl, V, and Zn. Eight dairies had water mineral content with one or more minerals (As, Fe, K, Mg, Mn, Na, and P) above the currently recommended standards. The maximal estimated percentage of the recommended daily intake (RDI) for P was less than 1%, Mn was 11%, Mg was 20%, Fe was 53%, and Na was 62%. Ca, Cu, and Zn were also present in maximal amounts of 17 to 52% of RDI even though these minerals were not above their standard. Minerals are often fed at maximal RDI based only on dietary components; thus, this study suggests not taking mineral water content into consideration in formulating diets could result in intakes exceeding upper RDI limits for these minerals.

DHIA milk test records were obtained for the three-month period surrounding the two water-sampling dates, and averaged. Nine DHIA parameters had correlations (P < 0.05) or trends towards correlation (trends, P < 0.1) with one or more minerals. The minerals that had correlations or trends were Al, Ca, Fe, Mo, Pb, and Si. The majority of these correlations or trends indicated a detrimental impact on the DHIA parameter involved. Al had a detrimental impact on three reproduction parameters, including two relating to spontaneous abortions. The highly significant (P < 0.001) positive correlation of Al with abortion before 151 d gestation (r = 0.60) was the strongest found in this study. It is of interest that of these six correlating minerals, only Fe was found to be above standards in livestock drinking water. Further studies are needed to determine whether the adverse effects of Al, Ca, Pb, and Si in drinking water have firm scientific basis in dairy cattle.

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