Ruminants feed conversion and water treatment

Ruminants digestive system
Water is the main constituent of ruminants and all animals, averaging 50% to 80% water depending on age and fat content. The importance of water and it’s quality is typically overlooked and yet the prevalence put on food quality in finishing animals and animal health is a hot topic. Unfortunately, this is an oversight as an animal can survive after losing 50% of its body protein and yet if a ruminant or other animal loses just 10% of its body water the effect could be fatal.


This indicates that the balance of priority for ruminants for feed conversion, health, well-being and finishing times for production, are far more swayed towards water being the priority nutrient for consideration. For the success of a livestock enterprise and the health of ruminants an abundance of good quality water is a necessity and should be at the core of your strategy, whatever farm management system you have. The quality and quantity of water directly correlates with the ruminant animals feed intake and feed conversion rate.


Waters Many Benefits to Ruminants

24552099 – ruminant stomach the ruminant species have one stomach that is divided into four compartments rumen, reticulum, omasum and abomasum ruminating mammals include cattle, goats, sheep, giraffes, yaks, deer, camels, llamas, antelope


Water is essential for many functions in ruminants and other animals. It moves food through the digestive tract, it regulates body temperature, carries essential nutrients throughout the body, it lubricates joints and organs, its needed for chemical reactions in the body and waste excretion from the body. Ruminants can survive for weeks without food but only days without water.

Water Quality and Ruminants

Another typical oversight with water is that the priority of water for ruminants is always swayed in the favour of quantity and availability, which although crucial factors, water quality is overlooked. Despite endless research into feed quality, and yet, however good the quality of the food, ruminants lacking sufficient intake of quality water will ingest less food as a ratio of food to water intake is always sought by ruminant animals. So a lack of quality water will equate to an animal eating less. Water intake in ruminants is roughly twice the weight of feed intake. However, during periods of extreme heat stress, water intake may triple or even quadruple. Therefore, it is essential to have a safe and adequate water supply at all times in order to achieve efficient livestock production.


Water quality plays a major role in ruminants performance so it’s of great importance to ensure water is not contaminated as this will affect a ruminants digestion and absorption of nutrients as well as a risk to the ruminants health and mortality rate. A common misgiving is that mains water as it has been treated at source eliminates this issue but unfortunately, this doesn’t protect from build up of contaminants in the pipes or surface water contamination. The other downside of a mains water supply is that ruminant animals prefer natural water as it is softer.


Ruminants water preference

Many tests have been done on ruminant animals in which they are offered both natural water from a spring, river or pond and mains water. This has resulted in all the animals flocking round the natural water and queuing to drink, with little or no interest in the mains water. The same tests have been run with water treated with chlorinated water and that of chlorine dioxide water treatment. With animals preferring the chlorine dioxide water treatment as it has no odour or taste, where as chlorine treated water has both an odour and taste that repels ruminants and other animals.


Chlorine Dioxide water treatment

Chlorine dioxide despite having chlorine in its name, its chemistry is radically different from that of chlorine. It can also be used in smaller doses and still has a higher ability to kill a wider range of bacteria including microbes such as e.coli, giardia, crypto, etc.  Chlorine dioxide water treatment can be used for all water sources i.e. borehole, streams, springs and surface water, which all carry the same potential problem both mineral and bacterial amongst others.Why are these pathogens a problem for Ruminants?

If we look at ruminant livestock in our modern world of intensive farming, our quest is to produce as much “end product” whether that’s eggs, meat, milk or others, for a minimum input of ingredients such as wheat, barley, and others (producing a product which is affordable

It is, therefore, logical to assume that the genetic potential from our livestock will not reach full expected growth or finishing expectations when the digestive process is challenged by competitors to the digestive process by outside influences.

In other words invasive bacteria, in this case, not only challenge the ruminant animal’s Intestinal track environment but also absorb much of the nutrient content intended for our “end product”.

The first sign of an issue in ruminants is the occurrence of “scouring” or diarrhoea. Essentially, this is a sign that the food (nutrients) eaten by the stock are transiting through the gut at a greater speed and therefore with less absorbance transfer of food to the body than expected.

This in production terms would be classified as a reduction in FCR (food –conversion-ratio) The amount of input versus the output)


Ruminants Nutrient Deficiency

Feed manufacturers, for example, are always the first to to be assumed at fault when stock  do not grow as well as expected, but is it the fact that the feed is deficient? or is it a case that the ruminant animal has not been best placed to maximise the nutrients offered, due to the contamination and bacterial affects resonating from poor water quality?

It’s clear that invasive bacteria cause a reduction in ruminant animals performance and the inability to achieve maximum genetic potential and longer finishing times to boot.

Utilising natural water treated with high quality chlorine dioxide water treatment is clearly an advance on cost reduction of the ruminants produce and heightens quality and production rate.


Water Management with Water Treatment

Using water treatment as part of your water management strategy ensures optimum water quality and incorporated into a self-sufficient water management plan such as utilising a water source on your land whether it be a pond, stream, river, reservoir, well or land drains and pumping it to water storage, like a header tank or water tank where it’s filtered and water treatment is added before pumping the water to where you need it. This water management solution offers a return on investment between 1 & 2 years and is over 75% self-sustainable source of water on mains use and in some cases could not rely on mains at all!!

Not only do we need to state what it costs to collect and treat the water (against that of mains water and its poor relevance to production) but also what “stress relief” we are removing from the draw on our declining water reserves.

The effect of eliminating potential invasive bacteria into a ruminant animals gut is clear, so, we have the system to collect water (with whatever contaminants it might contain, capture it, treat it, store it and then reuse it far more effectively than any municipal water company can provide “mains water”.

The effects of our system not only removes the use of chlorine, and its toxic by-products, but also all the impurities from the atmosphere mentioned in many scientific reports, which allows the water we produce to have zero pathogens eliminating the challenges we have mentioned on the ruminants “genetic potential” whilst being environmentally sound and safe, but also eliminating many of the reasons for the need to use antibiotics.


Fill in our water survey to find out your options.

If you would like to discuss any of these options with me email me on or fill in the form below.

Fields marked with an * are required

Write a comment