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  • Writer's pictureTeena

Does Rusty Water Affect Horses?

horse and woman
Molly Miss Molly Doesn't Like Rust Water!

Rusty Water is Caused by Iron in Your Well Water.

The amount and concentration of iron can vary from one location to another, but if you're experiencing any sort of discoloration or staining from your tap water, it may be a good idea to check for signs that there's rust present in your well system.

How do I confirm rusty well water? If you think that your horse's drinking supply might be affected by rust, here are some things to look out for:

  • Dark stains on the water trough

  • Your horse's gums are red (or even black!) when he drinks from his bucket or tub

  • You see red streaks or red tint in the well water

  • Abnormal shedding or dull, lifeless coat

What Are The Symptoms Of Iron (Rust) in Your Water?

SPOTS on Clothing Can Be a Sign of Iron in Water

Rust in your water supply can stain clothing, plumbing fixtures and even the inside of your horse's mouth.

The iron content of rust-laden well water can also damage your plumbing system over time as it builds up deposits on pipes and valves within the house or barn that are used for bathing, drinking and other purposes by both humans and animals alike.

Rusty well water is especially dangerous for horses because their bodies are so sensitive to iron levels in foods or liquids consumed by them (or humans).

Horses may have adverse reactions if they ingest too much iron from rusty groundwater supplies; this includes everything from stomach upset to colic symptoms such as diarrhea or constipation--both serious conditions that require immediate veterinary attention if left untreated.

Low levels of iron might not be harmful to horses, but it can stain their water buckets and other objects that come into contact with the well water. If you notice red stains in your shower, rusty stains on your toilet, it may be due to the iron content in your well water system.

How Much Iron Is Too Much?

The answer to this question depends on the horse. The EPA recommends iron levels no higher than 0.3 ppm in human drinking water and there is a study that showed toxicity in horses and donkeys consuming between 0.7 and 72.5 ppm in their water.

I know you want to protect your horses and livestock but if your iron levels are greater than 0.3, I would take action to protect your and your livestock's health.

Testing Well Water For Contaminants

Water Test Strips
Test Strips for Well Water

I know of 3 ways you can test your water for contaminants;

  • Purchasing test strips

  • Bring your water to an Agricultural Extension at a local university

  • Have a commercial water testing company test it.

Fixing Your Bad Well Water

If your horse has been drinking rusty well water for some time now, it may be worth considering treatment options before they become sick from drinking too much iron-rich water over time or even develop kidney disease as a result of chronic exposure.*

The main types of inline water filters are water softeners, reverse osmosis, and Homemade Well Water Filter

donkey and a man and an woman
Even BaDonkADonkey Doesn't Want To Drink Rusty Water

Is Rusty Well Water Safe For Horses To Drink?

The answer to this question depends on two factors: how much iron is in the water and how much your horse drinks.

The amount of iron in well water varies, but it's typically between 2 and 5 ppm (parts per million). The EPA recommends that domestic water levels of iron not exceed 0.3 ppm.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends that people with long-term exposure to water with more than 5 ppm iron limit their intake to 1 liter per day because high levels can cause gastrointestinal problems like nausea and diarrhea.

Horses are not immune from the effects of high iron levels either.

Their bodies are not designed to handle large amounts of it without becoming sick or even dying from anemia due to loss of red blood cells for an extended period of time.

In fact, there have been cases where horses died from drinking too much well water containing high levels of iron!

Dry Dull Horse Coat

How Does Too Much Iron Affect Horses?

There is naturally a small amount of iron in ground or well water.

Too much iron can affect horses in the following ways

  • Colic

  • Diarrhea

  • Anemia

  • Liver problems

  • Kidney disease

  • Heart problems

  • Dry and dull coats

  • Lose hair in small amounts

Iron is a common ingredient of fly repellent and may be present on the skin of your horse's lower legs if you routinely spray them with fly repellant.

Always check with your veterinarian before administering any iron supplements.

They may interact with other sources of iron and increasing absorption rates and may cause more damage than good!

Rusty well water is not harmful to horses as long as you take precautions.

In order for your horse to safely drink rusty well water, it must be treated to reduce the iron.

An iron filter will remove the rust from the water and make it safe for consumption by your horse.

NOTE: My well water was SO rusty that the iron filter completely clogged up in 3 days leaving zero water flow to my house!

Tips to Reduce the Amount of Iron Ingested By Horses

  • Don't feed hay on the ground. Ingesting soil along with the hay can cause increased iron levels in your horse.

  • Soaking hay in water can decrease levels of iron in the hay. Keep in mind that it might reduce the amount of good minerals too!

  • Hay grown in highly acidic or high clay soils have the tendency to have highter levels of iron.

How Can I Prevent Rusty Well Water for My Horses?

Rusty Water Would Make His Coat Dull and Lifeless

There are a few ways you can prevent rusty well water from affecting your horses.

  • Don't let your horses drink rusty well water! If you suspect that your horse has ingested rusty well water (or any type of contaminated liquid) or water from a very rusty container, make your vet aware of it. They might have some suggestions.

  • The sooner they receive treatment, the better their chances will be at making a full recovery.* Flush the lines regularly with clean tap water.* Install a softener system on your property if you're able to do so; these systems use salt brine or potassium chloride brine solutions that help remove impurities from tap water while also increasing its pH level so as not to cause corrosion within metal pipes/fixtures within homes/buildings etcetera...

How can I treat rusty water from my well?

You can treat your well water with a water softener, disposable filters, reverse osmosis, or a Homemade Well Water Filter.

1. Water Softeners: A water softener is a device that removes calcium and magnesium from your water by passing it through resin beads that contain sodium chloride (salt).

The resin beads essentially "soak up" the minerals in your well, leaving you with softer water that's less likely to cause damage to your plumbing system or leave behind mineral deposits on surfaces like sinks and tubs.

Water softeners generally very costly depending on their size and type of resin used; they need to be maintained on a regular basis by pouring 40 pound bags of salt into the recepticle.

For me, the salt is the biggest drawback.

  • You have to get them at a building supply store (40 pounds each), load them on the cart, transfer them to your truck, haul them to the basement or wherever your water softener is installed, and about once a month - pour 1 or more bags into the recepticle.

  • The price of the salt has gone wayyy up in the last few years.

  • If you use salt to treat your water - you cannot water your plants, shrubs, vegetable garden, flowers, or sapling trees with salt treated water. It damages or kills them.

  • If you or anyone in your household is on blood pressure medication and on a salt restricted diet, domestic water that has been treated in a water softener with salt is not recommened for them.

2. Disposable Water Filters: Water filters remove impurities from drinking water by passing it through various types of media designed to capture specific contaminants such as sediment, chlorine compounds and other harmful substances found in ground or well water.

The downfall of these is they are expensive and must be changed often.

Mine needed to be changed after 3 days and it cost $39!!!

3. Reverse Osmosis: I don't like the cons of this system

They do what they say but...

  • They waste 3-20 TIMES as much water as they produce

  • They can significantly reduce the pressure of the water in your house, ie. drippy shower heads

  • Wastewater requires proper disposal! 😲

4. Homemade Well Water Filter: This is my favorite option!

So you've heard the downsides of the other systems.

  • Have to handle 40lb bags of salt from the store to the filter

  • The cost of salt has gone way up

  • High blood pressure should not use salt

  • Waste water

  • Reduce Pressure

  • Disposable filters are expensive

My Patent Pending Homemade Well Water Filter does NOT do any of the things listed above.

The course to build it takes you through all the steps with videos and downloaded materials.

* Parts list and schematic

* DIY plumbing skills

* Location options and site prep

* Dry fit

* Build the magic

* How to filter and refresh the media

* Preventive maintenance

It's an inline filter that is inexpensive to build and maintain.

If I did can too!

Click over to my page that describes the course to build my Well Water Filter

I look forward to seeing you in the course and the private Facebook group for folks that purchase the course!

Here's my email if you'd like to say hello...


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