Keeping your animals watered is fundamental to livestock care. When you are planning a water supply for your livestock, it is useful to know how much the different species drinks a day.

Of course there are many factors that influence this intake, such as the animal’s live-weight, size, activity, physiological state (pregnant, lactating, etc) and age. However there are some averages that we can work with.

Class of animals Litres/head/day
Cattle (lactating) 70
Cattle (non-lactating) 45
Calves 25
Working horses 55
Grazing horses 35
Sheep 4
Lambs 1
Sows 25
Poultry per 100 birds 20
Household use per person 200

Keep The Water Trough Clean

Keeping a clean, clear water trough is a basic part of providing adequate daily care for your livestock. Clean water helps keep your animals well hydrated and healthy. Algae naturally forms in stagnant water, which might cause an upset in your animals’ digeestion. The dirty trough problem will be compounded by various seeds, weeds, slobber and whatever else your animal has in or around its mouth whenever it reaches into the trough to take a drink.

Water troughs need to be hygienic to support good animal health, and frequent emptying and cleaning is important.

Drain all of the old water out of the tank. Dump or scoop any remaining debris out of the tank. Spray vinegar into the trough as a disinfectant. Apple cider vinegar is thought to have health benefits for the animals as well. Some people use bleach, but be sure to rinse out two or three times. Scrub down the inside of the water trough with a hard bristled scrubbing brush until the trough is cleaned to your satisfaction. Rinse out water trough with a hose. If it is a sunny day leave the trough empty for an hour or two to benefit from the anti-septic effect of UV rays. Fill the trough with no more than a three-day supply for the pasture population. Stagnant, dirty water loses its appeal, and livestock tend to drink it only when they must.

Regular cleaning and scrubbing is the only truly effective way to keep the water trough clean.

Can You Use A Bath As A Water Trough?

Many smallholders use cast-off bathtubs to serve as animal watering troughs. If it is an old cast-iron bath, it will work very well, particularly if you have horses. Horses enjoy splashing in baths and they can’t break a heavy old enamelled bath. However, if it is a thin fibreglass or acrylic bath it is more likely to break.

If you have lambs, a bath is problematic because they can climb in and then not be able to get out. Sinking the bath into the ground might help, but then it’s more difficult to clean.

If you need a watering trough for a single animal enclosure, cut a plastic barrel, which was previously used as a bulk container for a safe liquid, in half to create two ample water containers.

Other Kinds Of Livestock Water Troughs

There are a variety of troughs available that are made from heavy plastic. They are made at various different heights to cater for smaller and large stock. They are supplied with ball valves to regulate water levels.

Rototank make a water tank trough for animal water storage. The tank can also act as a rainwater storage tank. The tank stores 1650 litres, including 250 litres in the trough part. These systems are available as solar power water troughs as well.

The base of the trough must be positioned on solid, level grounding which is free of any protruding objects which could lead to puncturing the trough. It is also advisable to surround the trough with a layer of gravel, so the area around the trough stays as dry as possible and provides safe footing for your stock.

Check your troughs daily to ensure that rodents, birds or other small wildlife have not fallen in and drowned. An animal carcass in a water source can cause any number of illnesses in livestock forced to drink the tainted water.

To read more on livestock click here.

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