Anion or Ion Exchange for Ranch Animals

Asked January 22, 2014, 8:40 PM EST

We have a farm/ranch with around 1,0000 head of cattle, and a few goats and horses. We water with wells that are overly high is sulfate. We use RO for household use but what can be done for animals and lawn?

Otero County Colorado

1 Response

There is no easy answer to mitigating sulfates in water.

Sulfates can be additive. As water evaporates from stock water tanks the sulfates concentrate. If you have large stock tanks, consider replacing with a few more smaller tanks. The smaller surface area will allow for less evaporation. Also, drain stock tanks periodically to release high sulfate water and refill.

If there is a possibility of good water, drilling another well may be considered. Can you access an exisiting water supply that isn't high in sulfates? Both of these options may be expensive. Can livestock be rotated between pastures with different water sources and use those with higher sulfates when they may be at the lowest sulfate levels? Can water be hauled from a low sulfate well to mix with high sulfate water?

Sulfates can be caused by a number of different minerals. Sodium, calcium and magnesium are three examples. The high sulfates can cause polioencephalomalacia, (PEM) a swelling of the brain. The Merck Veterinary Manual says that in all cases of PEM thiamine is deficient. If you have PEM occurring, visit with your Veterinarian about treatment that likely will include thiamine hydrochloride. Also, a copper deficiency may be associated with high sulfates. Reduced performance, feed consumption or water absorption may start at lower levels of sulfate (@1500ppm).

Below is some information that relate to livestock and sulfates. I looked at several universities information and they all said basically the same thing.

As for the sulfates concerns in the lawn, I recommend you contact a nearby Master Gardener. There are several in Pueblo. You can reach them at 719-583-6566.

Good Luck,