The Importance of Filtration for Livestock's Water Quality
Water Quality for Animal Herds
Clean, high quality drinking water is mandated for communities in most countries by the government. Standards have been established for a single home on a well to the largest cities which produce water from wells, surface sources or oceans. In certain instances, such as where nitrates or lead create issues a single well or for brackish water along coastal communities, reverse osmosis (RO) is required to produce an acceptable quality of potable water.
A critical part of these systems is the protection of the reverse osmosis membrane. The goal of the pre-RO filter is to reduce membrane fouling by provide a silt density index value (SDI) below four. By doing so, the life of the membrane is increased, chemical cleaning is reduced, which equates to improved operational efficiencies.
Clean drinking water is equally essential for the growth and production of livestock such as cattle, dairy, chicken, pig, fish, and horses. As with humans, some water quality parameters such as pH, salinity, odor, taste etc., may affect palatability of the water, thus altering the intake due to taste. It seems obvious that when water intake increases due to seasonal temperatures or activity level, intake of any “contaminant” present in this water is increased in the same proportion which may result in reduced feed consumption, affecting performance or growth. In animals that do not metabolize water contaminants such as sulfate, the result may be negative short term or long term health effects.
Therefore identifying the contaminants and installing adequate water purification is well justified for productivity of the herd or flock. This is especially true with cattle and dairy farms where weight loss and low milk production have been seen due to low quality or inadequate drinking water. Based on analyses of over 200 ‘suspect’ drinking water samples from across the U.S. in the last ten years, the most common water quality problems are high iron (greater than 0.3 ppm) and high anion contents (sulfate + chloride; greater than 1,000 ppm) that can a ect cow health and performance.
Most of New Mexico’s water supply is considered “hard,” containing both calcium and magnesium. Research has shown that providing RO quality water to the herd results the cows drinking more water which increases milk production.
While RO systems can have a significant capital acquisition cost, the increase production often results in a suitable return on investment since the RO membrane will last several years. The frequent ongoing cost would be the pre filters to the RO, and thus managing the cost and performance of these filters is important.
A water system OEM was supplying GE ROSave.Z to several dairy farms in southern New Mexico to protect the RO membrane. As part of a cost management evaluation, the Graver MBC Series melt blown filter was provided for evaluation.
While both products are melt blown technologies, the MBC offers a four zone, graded pore construction which results in an 80% improvement on flow characteristics while resulting in equivalent efficiency.
The end user determined that the filters provided nearly three times the life of the GE ROSave.Z, reducing the change-out frequency, thus simplifying maintenance and overall cost of filtration (COF = price of filter + maintenance + inventory cost). The MBC is an economical, yet high performance product for pre-RO applications.