An accurate water-quality analysis begins with proper water sampling.

First, take two samples, advises Dave Beede, professor of dairy nutrition at Michigan State University. Take one sample as close to the well as possible. Take the second sample at the site of discharge into the water trough or tank, but avoid sampling directly from the trough or tank, as this can contaminate the sample with saliva and feed.

Next, submit the sample for a standard lab analysis for “livestock water,” Beede says. If the lab report shows iron concentrations exceed 0.3 parts per million (ppm), or sulfate or chloride concentrations exceed 250 to 500 ppm, take two more samples and send each to a different certified lab for analysis.

“This may seem like over-kill at the time, but water treatment systems can be a major investment, so it is important to know for sure that concentrations of a particular analyte are in excess,” Beede says.

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