Implementation of techniques for ensuring water quality of outdoor watering troughs in cow-calf farms: A literature review

  • Date de publication : 2021-05-14

Mot(s) Clé(s)

Boeuf Eau


The bacteriological quality of watering troughs in cow-calf farms is often very poor, especially due to a high concentration of fecal coliforms, Escherichia coli bacteria and enterococci. In fact outdoor watering troughs placed outside are exposed to conditions where microbiological ecosystems can easily grow, substantially affecting water quality. The causes of contamination can be the cattle themselves (e.g., by their faeces) or other animals, forage falling in drinking troughs, exposure to sunlight, etc. In the first months of life, calves are with their mother mainly suckling milk. They also start to eat forage, other solid feed and drinking water. A poor water quality can result in a decrease in water and feed intake and, ultimately, in a decrease in growth performance. Moreover, maintaining the bacteriological quality of drinking water, and thus the health of calves, has a direct positive impact on the environment by the reduction of the excretion and release of pathogens through manure. Different techniques and technologies have been developed to ensure water quality, but they are mainly adapted for human drinking water. Those for animals are scarce and not widespread. In this context, this paper will provide a review of techniques and technologies for water treatment (e.g. chlorination, aeration, ultraviolet light, coagulation and flocculation, and filtration), focussing on the potential to be implemented in cow-calf operations. An improvement of water quality through practical treatment solutions will likely yield heavier calves and reduces diseases, which will enhance the competitiveness of cow-calf farms, avoid contamination and provide food security.