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Livestock Water Testing Guidelines

white cow amongst black cow herd cooling off in water

Sample Protocol

  1. Collect sample in clean 1-quart or larger plastic (preferred) or glass container a. Sample containers can be obtained from your county office of the NDSU Extension Service or the watershed coordinator with your local Soil Conservation District. b. The Astro Chem Lab prefers you contact it to get a sample kit/container.
  2. Collect sample from area where livestock are drinking. If collecting cyanobacteria (bluegreen algae), take a sample in the bloom and wear gloves because it can be toxic to humans.
  3. Rinse container several times using water to be sampled.
  4. Fill container completely. Being sure to collect water from deeper in the water and the surface.
  5. Label the container with following information:
    1. name of waterbody
    2. name of sampler
    3. date collected d. time collected
  6. Seal the container tightly and wrap the top with tape to prevent leaking. Place the water in a sealed plastic bag.
  7. Complete laboratory sample custody form required to be submitted with the sample; contact the laboratory if needed.
  8. If submitting a cyanobacteria sample, ship immediately on an ice pack (no wet ice please) by next-day delivery. Do not freeze the sample or leave it on the dashboard of your vehicle (avoid temperature extremes). Fresh samples yield the best results. Many samples begin to degrade rapidly after collection; therefore, samples should be received by the laboratory within 24 hours whenever possible.

*We recommend collecting and shipping samples before Friday to avoid shipping delays.

Testing Labs

NDSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory
701-231-7527 or 701-231-8307

  • Water screen: nitrates, pH, total dissolved solids (TDS), sulfates
    • Cost: $25 for test and $10 submission fee (submission paid once when submitting multiple samples)
  • Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae)
    • Cost: $20 for test and $10 submission fee (submission paid once when submitting multiple samples)
  • Turnaround: within one day of samples arriving at lab
  • Shipping:
    U.S. Postal Service
    Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory
    NDSU Dept. 7691
    PO Box 6050
    Fargo, ND 58108-6050

    Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory
    4035 19th Ave. N.
    Fargo, ND 58102

Minnesota Valley Testing Laboratories Inc.

  • Water screen: nitrates, conductivity, total dissolved solids (TDS), sulfates
  • Cost: $52
  • Turnaround: seven days
  • Shipping:
    Minnesota Valley Testing Laboratories
    2616 East Broadway Ave.
    Bismarck, ND 58501

Astro Chem Lab Inc.

  • Water screen: pH, conductivity, residual sodium carbonate, hardness, sodium adsorption ratio, total dissolved solids, sodium chloride, calcium, magnesium, sodium, iron, potassium, chloride, carbonate, bicarbonate, sulfate and nitrate-N
  • Cost: $60
  • Turnaround: seven days
  • Shipping:
    Astro Chem Lab
    4102 2nd Ave. W.
    PO Box 972
    Williston, ND 58802