Water Trough

If you live on a farm, you already know what troughs and tanks are, their size and structure that differs for various animals, and their benefits. A trough is what animals eat or drink from, while a water tank is a place to store water, usually placed near a wind-driven water pump in an animal pen or field.

In Australia, the watering trough is established so that sheep, cattle and other domesticated animals can drink and eat. In days gone by, watering troughs were very common in many towns and cities of Australia as a means for horses to drink while they were tethered to a post. In 1927 animal lovers Annis and George Bills funded the building of 500 watering troughs in Australia, Ireland, England and the United States.

Rainfall in the central part of Australia is usually sparse. As a result, many areas face water shortages during the hot summer months every year. It is essential for areas facing water shortages to find an alternative to resolve this problem. One of the common ways to conserve and store water to ensure consistent supply is by installing water troughs and tanks. Let’s understand both of them in detail here.

What are Water Troughs & Tanks? The Significance of a Water Trough

Water tanks are large metal containers, usually placed near a wind-driven water pump in an animal pen or field, while a watering trough or artificial watering point is a man-made or natural receptacle. The word trough refers to the shape of the container and can mean anything that is a long, narrow, open container – just like the curve on a graph or a depression in the ground.

A trough is usually used for feeding or watering livestock on farms or ranches, such as horses, cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, poultry etc, but can also be used to feed or wild water animals.

Importance of a Water Trough

Typically made from metal, polyethylene, and concrete material, these troughs have a positive effect on livestock by enabling a constant source of clean, high-quality water. Research reveals that when cattle are provided with high-quality water, they will

  • Drink more
  • Eat more
  • Gain weight quicker

It is essential to know that all animals, especially dairy cows, require constant access to fresh water. Farmers prioritise livestock weight gain, so ensuring the stock water is high quality is important.

Dams and reservoirs are often used as water sources for livestock, but these can be exposed to stormwater run-off and animal manure. Troughs can provide better quality water than a dam. Cattle may also drink more water from a trough if they feel cautious around large bodies of water, there are steep embankments and so on.

How are Plastic Troughs Better in Comparison to Other Materials?

Although cattle are generally slow-moving animals, they can pack a powerful punch when gathered in large groups to eat and drink. You don’t want your tank to shatter due to over-enthusiastic cattle contaminating the water. Fortunately, manufacturers provide several types of water troughs made from a range of materials:

The type of material you use to make your water trough will determine how durable it is. Here are some of the key points of various materials:

  • Polyethylene – Lightweight, easy to move, simple to clean, UV resistant, and will ‘bounce back’ to retain its shape even if livestock bumps into it.
  • Concrete – The most common trough, ideal if you want it to stay in a permanent position. However, concrete troughs are highly porous, hard to clean, and can deteriorate due to cattle saliva and enzymes in their food.
  • Fibreglass – These are light and easy to install but are most prone to crack from any abuse by livestock or handlers. They also require a special coating to ensure the safety of your cattle.
  • Metal – Allows movement among paddocks, but they should be placed under shelter as they are prone to rust. They may also be harmed by rowdy livestock.

As polyethylene troughs are portable, farmers can easily rest paddocks by moving stock to a different area. FSP Oz Products offers a wide range of UV-resistant plastic water troughs to make daily operations more convenient and practical. With our various livestock troughs and water troughs, farmers can provide their livestock with the water and nutrition they need without worrying about dealing with unhygienic, easily-broken, or difficult-to-clean items.

We have carefully designed PVC water tanks and troughs that allow you to store drinking water in large quantities for livestock. This long-term water storage solution eliminates the need for frequent refilling of the troughs. Our plastic water troughs for livestock are lightweight and easy to move, giving you a better tactical grazing experience.

What is the Standard Size of a Trough?

Trough sizes range from 30 gallons to 300 gallons. You can choose one that meets your requirements, whether long or short, narrow or wide. The smallest size for a cattle water trough is usually around 140 gallons.

Many cattle farmers choose 500-gallon water troughs to provide their animals with constant access to clean water without needing constant refilling. The best size is at least 304 millimetres deep, and 609 millimetres tall is more desirable to give your animals plenty of room to drink.

Type and Size of Water Tank for Horses and Sheep

You can use these water troughs at different locations according to your requirements. With FSP’s water troughs, you can also set up strategic water points wherever needed around your property. The 1000-litre cattle/horse water trough comes in a 1420mm x 680mm size, which is ideal for meeting the water requirements of large numbers of livestock.


Our superior quality water troughs for horses and sheep are made using the highest quality materials, offering excellent durability. Some of the extra features are:

  • Stainless steel float arm
  • Stainless steel seat
  • Polly float cover
  • UV stabilised
  • Rustproof

In addition, they are resistant to ongoing wear and tear. These troughs are designed to last and come with an extended 10-year warranty. They have a robust design and are easy to clean and maintain.
To ensure the maximum longevity of your troughs, it is important to install them correctly.

How to Install a Water Trough?

  • Remove the cover and valve
  • Check the rubber seal of the valve is inside the trough and that the nuts or the washer are placed outside, and then install the valve into the trough
  • Hold the valve and screw the bolt and ensure that the ballcock moves freely
  • Snaplock the cover to protect the trough’s valve from the stocks’ sudden behaviour at times

The trough should be easy to access so that animals do not have to travel too far to reach it, and the surrounding terrain should allow safe and easy movement.

While correct installation of the water trough is critical, it is equally essential to maintain and clean the water trough regularly for optimal functionality.

Ways to Maintain a Water Trough

  • At the beginning of each season, the trough should be cleaned, and the plumbing system that fills the trough with water should be checked to ensure everything is working correctly.
  • Inlet screens and float valves should be examined to ensure proper operation and maintenance of the desired level.
  • All fencing should be checked to ensure that is intact. During the operating season, the site should be checked periodically (every two or three days) to ensure that there are no leaks and that the plumbing system is working as it is supposed to.
  • The water trough should also be checked for general cleanliness and to remove unwanted items like leaves.

How to Keep a Sheep Trough Clean. How Often Should They be Cleaned?

Algae growth in a water trough not only gives the water an unpleasant taste, but if cattle ingest the algae, they may become seriously ill or even die. It’s vital to ensure that troughs remain clean and algae-free to keep your animals in top condition.

  • If possible, empty the tank and scrub it thoroughly with a scrubbing brush, using a weak bleach solution and rinsing. Ideally, troughs need to be cleaned regularly or at least every two weeks to minimise the risk of algae build-up.
  • If a tank hasn’t been used for more than a week or two, the water must be drained, cleaned, and replaced before animals can use it safely. The tank should then be refilled with fresh water, so the trough does not develop algae.
  • Just as you clean the trough at the beginning of the season, you should ideally clean it again at the end of the season, along with the piping system supplying water to the trough, which will help prevent algal build up.
  • Algae need warmth and light to grow; placing the trough in a shady spot can restrict the sunlight. It will help to reduce the water’s temperature, thereby restraining algae formation.
  • Prompt water testing can also be used to establish if blue-green algae (the toxic sort) is present, enabling remedial measures to be deployed.
  • Water aeration, the process of maintaining and increasing water oxygen saturation, ensures that water stays fresh for longer while reducing algal blooms. Aquarium enthusiasts have long used this concept to keep plants and fish in their tanks healthy while minimising the need for manual cleaning interventions.
  • Adding a small amount of bleach to the water will not affect the water’s taste, so the livestock cannot drink it. But it will affect the algae’s ability to thrive.

What is the Role of Goldfish in Cleaning a Water Trough?

Although we think of goldfish as dirty, they are relatively clean. Goldfish make an ideal tank or trough cleaners, apart from being fun and easy pets to keep in the aquarium. Let’s consider some of the benefits here:

  • Goldfish can survive cold weather and live for years with the appropriate space. As long as the trough doesn’t freeze entirely solid, the fish will enter a hibernation period, and when spring arrives, they will be back to eating all the green grime that has been developing in your stock tank.
  • Goldfish do not need additional nutrients and can survive in the tanks with the nutrients already present. Goldfish can live off the algae growing on the trough walls and floor, and they will also eat mosquito larvae and some insects that may fall into the water, further helping to keep the water clean.
  • Goldfish are inexpensive and require little care. Most farmers and ranchers say their livestock show no interest in the fish. As long as your tank is deep enough for fish to swim away from predators like cats or other mammals, the fish have no fear of becoming dinner.
  • You need not worry about the fish chewing the floating valve in the tank, as goldfish teeth are designed for grinding rather than chewing. With little to no maintenance, using a few goldfish, you can rest assured knowing your livestock have access to clean, fresh, full water tanks.

Knowing the importance of clean, functioning water troughs and tanks for keeping livestock healthy, and if you are looking for plastic water troughs and tanks for sale in NSW, FSP Oz Products is the right choice.

Why Choose Oz Water Tanks & Troughs

FSP Oz Products has been one of Australia’s most well-reputed and trusted names in manufacturing high-density polyethylene plastic water tanks and troughs for livestock or other agriculture products for the past 20 years.

Designed to exclude light and effectively inhibit algae growth, our headboard water tanks come with a 10-year warranty. They are UV stable and don’t chip or crack even when exposed to the harsh summer sun. Our water troughs for horses and sheep are available at competitive prices.
They feature ribbed walls, which effectively prevent bulging and give them longevity.

These troughs and tanks don’t require annual maintenance, repairs or replacements, saving you significant annual expenses. In addition, they are rotationally moulded in one piece, so they don’t have any joint or weak points making them leak-resistant. They also come with a mosquito-proof overflow and leaf strainer, thus ensuring hygienic conditions.

Our advanced range of agriculture products includes Reggie posts, star pickets, post and rail fences, and more to help your agricultural operations run smoothly.

If you are looking for high-quality, durable, weather-resistant water tanks and troughs in Australia, contact FSP Oz Products. Call us on 1300 847 901 or drop us an email at sales@fspozproducts.com.au

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