Laboratory testing has been completed on water from the dugout used by approximately 200 cattle that died on a pasture operated by Shamrock Grazing Ltd. late last week.
The pasture is south of Chaplin.
The water testing, as well as testing of affected animals, confirms that poor quality water, hot weather and dehydration are major factors in this case.
Sulphate concentration in the water was extremely high, at over 24,000 milligram/litre.
Concentrations over 1,000 mg/litre can cause brain trauma in cattle, with death frequently occurring at concentrations greater than 7,000 mg/litre.
Total dissolved solids was 33,400 milligram/litre, which is also extremely high.
Water with total dissolved solids over 5,000 milligram/litre is not recommended for lactating or pregnant cattle, while water with TDS greater than 7,000 milligram/litre should not be used for cattle at all.
Saskatchewan’s chief veterinary officer, Dr. Betty Althouse, advises producers to test their water, because with hot weather and evaporation, dug-outs can quickly have increased concentrated salts.
She adds there are no obvious early signs of salt poisoning.
The Ministry of Agriculture is assisting with ongoing testing of several water sources in the immediate area.
A handful of deaths occurred among the remaining living 240 cow/calf pairs after the initial discovery.
The herd has been moved to a different pasture that has a safe and secure water source, with a small select number of distressed animals under veterinarian care.
The danger period for further mortality among the impacted animals is now believed to be small, although severely-affected animals that are not responding well to treatment may not survive.
The Ministry has also provided guidance and expertise to the operator and the rancher shareholders on the burial of the carcasses.