Around 200 cattle found dead in southwest Sask.

The province is investigating after around 200 cattle were found dead in a pasture. File / Global News

RCMP, animal protective services and the province are investigating after around 200 cattle were found dead in a pasture in southwest Saskatchewan.

The cattle, both cows and calves, died in a pasture that was operated by Shamrock Grazing Ltd. under the terms of a Crown lease.

The pasture is located just south of Chaplin and is around 23,700 acres.

The preliminary post-mortem and test results say the suspected cause of death to the cattle is dehydration and or salt toxicity.

Chief veterinary officer Dr. Betty Althouse said the solutions of salt in the water become more concentrated with evaporations, and “there’s a higher salt [concentration] than you would expect”.

“Water sources can change over time. So just because a water source is good one year doesn’t mean it’s necessarily going to be good next year,” Althouse said.

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She is reminding producers to test the water and ensure animals have access to fresh water, especially if conditions change.

The water source for the pasture is a dugout, which may have become unsuitable for livestock watering because of evaporation and resulting concentration of salts in the water. The province will be testing the water further.

Several of the dead and surviving cattle were sent to the Western College of Veterinary Medicine for further evaluation.

The province added that an estimated 240 surviving cow-calf pairs were immediately moved to a different field in the pasture that has a safe and secure water source.

The loss is estimated at $300,000. No charges or fines have been laid. Dr. Althouse said it’s still early in the investigation.

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