7 Common Livestock Illnesses Caused From Drinking Polluted or Dirty Water and How to Prevent Them

While various factors can affect livestock health, one often overlooked aspect is the quality of water provided to the animals. Dirty water can harbor harmful pathogens, leading to several common illnesses in livestock. By ensuring clean, fresh and safe water sources, we can safeguard the health of our livestock and promote a thriving farming enterprise.

We will explore seven common livestock illnesses and provide actionable steps that farmers and ranchers can take to prevent them. 

Bacterial Infections

Contaminated water is home to bacteria that causes sickness to animals.  Among these bacteria are E.coli, campylobacter, and salmonella.

Diarrhea is a common consequence of bacterial infections in livestock, often resulting in frequent loose stools and dehydration. To minimize the risk of bacterial infections, maintaining clean water sources is essential.

Water troughs, tanks, and pipes must be cleaned regularly to prevent the accumulation of dirt, bacteria and other organic matter.  In addition to regular cleaning, the installation of filtration systems or automatic livestock waterers provides an extra layer of protection against harmful bacteria.

Filtration systems remove suspended particles and impurities in the water.  Automatic waterers ensure continuous fresh and clean water for your livestock. 

Parasitic Diseases

Parasites such as flukes and giardia find a breeding ground in contaminated water sources, which can lead to various diseases that negatively impact livestock health.

One such disease is liver fluke infection, caused by fluke parasites that target the liver and gallbladder of livestock. This infection  makes animals grow slowly, cause anemia, and in severe cases, can lead to death.

Giardiasis disease mainly affects the digestive system of infected animals. It manifests as diarrhea, weight loss, and reduced feed efficiency. Coccidiosis, caused by coccidian parasites, causes intestinal damage, diarrhea, dehydration, and stunted growth rates in livestock.

Regular testing of water for the presence of parasites enables early detection of potential contamination. If parasites are found, prompt measures should be taken to mitigate the risk. 


Leptospirosis spreads through contact with water or soil contaminated by infected animals’ urine, including livestock. The bacteria called Leptospira is responsible for causing leptospirosis and can result in various symptoms and complications in livestock.

Infected livestock may show signs like fever, muscle pain, weakness, reduced appetite, and decreased milk production. To effectively prevent leptospirosis in livestock, minimizing exposure to contaminated water sources is of utmost importance.

Creating clean and dry living areas for animals helps reduce their contact with potentially contaminated environments. Implementing proper drainage systems and regularly removing standing water prevent the accumulation of stagnant water where the bacteria can thrive and spread.

Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD)

Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) affects animals with split hooves like cows, pigs, sheep, and goats. 

Dirty water helps spread the disease. Contaminated water can serve as a medium for the FMD virus, allowing it to persist and spread among animals. Infected animals can shed the virus through their saliva, nasal discharge, or even urine, contaminating nearby water sources. As animals drink the contaminated water, they become susceptible to the disease. 

To prevent the spread of FMD, ensure clean water troughs. Regular cleaning and disinfection of the troughs help minimize the risk of contamination. 


Contaminate water is one of the causes of mastitis. Mastitis, a condition characterized by udder tissue inflammation in dairy cattle, presents significant challenges for farmers worldwide. It negatively impacts milk production, compromises milk quality, leads to economic losses, and raises animal welfare concerns. 

 By providing clean, fresh water to the animals reduces the likelihood of pathogen contamination.


Respiratory infections, including pneumonia, can cause significant problems for livestock. They can lead to health complications, lower productivity, and cause financial losses for farmers. Preventing these infections begins with clean water sources. 

Early detection of respiratory infections enables prompt intervention and treatment, minimizing the severity of the disease and preventing its spread to other animals.

Scours (Diarrhea)

Provide clean and fresh water to effectively prevent scours in young livestock. Regularly cleaning water troughs and ensuring their freedom from contaminants and debris are essential practices that help minimize the risk of infection.

By providing access to clean water, farmers encourage proper hydration and reduce the likelihood of young animals ingesting harmful pathogens. Early identification of diarrheal cases allows for the isolation of affected animals, preventing contact with healthy individuals. 


Dirty water can harbor pathogens that cause various illnesses, compromising the productivity and profitability of farming operations. Preventative measures, such as regular cleaning of water sources, proper filtration systems, use of automatic livestock waterers, and good hygiene practices, can significantly reduce the risk of livestock illnesses related to dirty water.