Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Theses & dissertations (Interdisciplinary)



First Advisor

Thomas L. Carson


This project is investigating the drinking water quality of Iowa dairy cattle and the effect drinking water quality has on performance. There were 128 dairy farms participating in this study;For this study a novel method of sampling drinking water directly from drinking devices was utilized. There were 59 dairy farms using wells, 68 farms using rural water and 1 farm using spring water for the drinking water source. Contemporary production data was from DHIA records;The following parameters were measured, coliform, pH, total dissolved solids, nitrate, sulfate, and 22 minerals. A record of the type and amount of watering devices available for drinking water for lactating dairy cattle were taken. Linear inches available for drinking water space was determined as well as the frequency of cleaning of water devices;Preliminary results indicate that there are constituents of drinking water that appear to impact performance or reproduction of dairy cattle in Iowa. Elevated levels of nitrate, B, Ba, K, P and Mn in the drinking water have a negative effect on milk production. Elevated sulfate concentration in drinking water has a positive effect on milk production;Information about how drinking water was provided was also recorded. Positive effects on milk production were an increasing linear inches per cow available for drinking, the use of cups as drinking water devices and an increasing frequency of cleaning of water devices. An increasing distance from the feed bunk to the first available water device and not using drinking cup devices had a negative effect on milk production;Additional relationships of drinking water quality and the performance of Iowa dairy cattle are being delineated.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Steven Michael Ensley



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

109 pages