Improving Livestock Health
Removing water contaminants should increase the calf birth and survival rate, improve cattle life expectancy by 20%, and make us more profitable.
The health of livestock in eastern New Mexico, specifically Guadalupe and San Miguel counties, has been impacted by water quality from deep ground water wells that serve as the area’s primary water supply. Health issues include shorter life expectancies and lower reproduction rates among cattle. In one calving season, an area rancher lost more than 20 animal units as the result of poor water quality from a specific well. The rancher requested that NMSBA help identify suspected water quality issues and determine if a correlation existed with impaired livestock health.
The water quality analysis conducted by Michael Schuhen and Brian Dwyer of Sandia National Laboratories uncovered an endemic bacterium that releases sulfur into the water. To solve the sulfur problem, Schuhen and Dwyer engaged leveraged project participants with expertise in water quality and improvement. Al Bierle of Western Environmental Management Group conducted a feasibility study on low pressure reverse osmosis (RO) and provided pertinent cost data from his experience with dairy cows. Jay Glasscott of Arrakis provided expertise on membrane selection for the RO system. To power RO in remote locations, Joe Ortiz of Sustainable Resources Inc. evaluated the use of solar pumping systems using a blanket solar panel.
The team continues to test additional solutions to improve water quality and livestock health. “We hope to see results with this year’s calf crop,” says the rancher. “Removing water contaminants should increase the calf birth and survival rate, improve cattle life expectancy by 20%, and make us more profitable.” Al Bierle expects increased sales of his RO system as the word spreads about the Guadalupe County success.