Livestock Cropping & Pasture General Farm

What are the characteristics of water quality for sheep?


Water should have a pH in the range 6.5 to 8.5 to be satisfactory for sheep.

Indications are as follows:

Water pH requirements for sheep

pH Outcome for Sheep
 < 5.0 Highly acidic, reduced feed intake
6.5 – 8.5 Healthy range
 > 9  Digestive upsets, diarrhoea, lower feed conversion efficiency, reduced feed and water intake



Effect of salinity level on sheep

Electrical conductivity
(microSiemen per centimeter, S/cm)¹
Effect on Sheep
Acceptable range
< 1,600 Low salinity. No effect.
1,600 – 4,700 Generally satisfactory but may cause temporary, mild diarrhoea on first introduction
4,700 – 7,800 May be refused at first on introduction, but should be satisfactory. Possible temporary, mild diarrhoea.
Tolerable range for some stock
7,800 – 10,900 Reasonably safe except for sheep that are pregnant or lactating. Higher end levels should be avoided.
10,900 – 15,600 Considerable risk to pregnant or lactating ewes and young stock. Avoid completely in hot conditions. Older stock may tolerate in short term.
High Risk
15,600 – 23,400  May be OK in short term for old dry stock
30,000 Toxic

¹Electrical conductivity (EC) value is obtained by dividing the mg/L or ppm value given in the reference literature by 0.64 to give S/cm.


Algal growth

Algae are primitive plants found in most surface waters and can build up to high levels indicating high levels of nutrient chemicals contaminating the water. At high levels the algae can be responsible for unsatisfactory taste and strong odors in the water.  In extreme cases, some algae can produce toxins.