It is also realistic to assume that water sources across a single operation will often vary in sulfur content. Thus, simple adjustments in grazing may solve problems before they start.

“If you have summer and winter pastures you utilize specifically in that season, and if you have only certain wells pumping lots of sulfur, I would consider using those wells and pastures in the winter, and not during the breeding season or hotter times of the year. Use them at a time when the cattle are consuming less total water, which will help them avoid reaching toxic levels of consumption,” Martin says.


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For the same reasons, Koller adds that allowing cattle to adapt to a new environment with high sulfur content in the water is also better done in cooler months, when cows aren’t lactating.

“Adult cows can adapt and develop an increased tolerance,” she explains. “However, keep in mind that yearlings are less able to adapt, and weaned calves are the least able, which is partly why we see more issues with them.”

A balanced mineral supplement, with copper and molybdenum, can also aid in tying up more sulfur and preventing it from being absorbed. But, Ensley advises that copper deficiency can occur if too much is being utilized to bind sulfur; producers should be cognizant of that fact.

“The bottom line is that this is a challenge for some producers, with water being the determining factor. The biggest thing in combating the challenge is awareness – knowing what you have and what you need to do to avoid a problem,” Martin concludes.

Heather Hamilton is a rancher and freelance writer based in Lance Creek, WY.


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