Interpretive Summary: A risk-oriented evaluation of biofilm and other influencing factors on biological quality of drinking water for dairy cows
By: Jason J. Hayer, Céline Heinemann, Benedikt G. Schulze-Dieckhoff, and Julia Steinhoff-Wagner
Although water is recognized as one of the most important nutrients for dairy cows, only limited research on its quality and potential risk factors for quality impairments is available. This study aimed to evaluate biological water quality on Western German dairy farms, identify potential risk factors for impairment, and evaluate rapid test systems to score the hygienic status of troughs. Water, biofilm, and trough surfaces of 105 water troughs on 24 dairy farms were sampled and analyzed. The bacterial load of sampled livestock drinking water was relatively high. Nearly half of all water samples were contaminated with Escherichia coli, and antibiotic-resistant bacteria were detectable on four farms. Identified risk factors for poor biological water quality that could be used to ensure sufficient water quality on-farm were: high-volume troughs, plastic or cast iron as trough material, a lower distance to the milking parlor, heavy visible soiling, biofilm formation, and high ambient and high water temperatures. Rapid test systems to evaluate trough surfaces correlated with biofilm and water analysis results and could be a useful tool for farmers to check water quality on-farm.
Read the full article on the Journal of Animal Science.