Cattle graze in a field outside of North English, Iowa, Sept. 13, 2017. USDA Photo by Preston KeresAs severe drought conditions continue to plague much of the U.S, ensuring your grazing cattle have adequate access to water resources can be a daunting task. This is especially true when fatalities due to water-related toxicities are seen with greater frequency during dry periods. The most common water-related toxicities are water deprivation, sulfates, blue-green algae and nitrate contamination.

Water deprivation can happen if an automatic waterer stops functioning and the rancher does not notice. Then, cattle given full access to water after deprivation often suffer from electrolyte imbalances and salt toxicosis. To prevent this, renew water gradually over a period of several hours after consulting with your veterinarian. Sulfate toxicity is seen neurologically. Cattle can become depressed, lose their appetite and stagger when walking. To combat sulfate toxicity, test water sources for sulfur levels. Blue-green algae can cause liver damage which can be spotted through photosensitivity or bloody diarrhea. If this contamination is suspected, relocate all remaining cattle to a different water source.

Read more on tips to prevent water-related toxicities here.