Water quality is one of the areas often overlooked when evaluating practices that can improve cow performance without adding to overall expenses, says Bob James, VirginiaTechUniversity extension dairy nutrition specialist.

Fecal and feed contamination are the most common water-quality problems. “Water sources located adjacent to feed bunks or placed too low are commonly loaded with manure and spoiled feed,” he notes. The quickest solution is to drain and clean waterers on a daily, or at least every-other-day basis. Most waterers will allow you to do so. If not, consider modifying or replacing water sources.           

Also, James suggests testing water quality to determine total dissolved solids.