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Choosing the right trough for your lifestyle block

Choosing the right trough for your lifestyle block

Choosing the right trough for your lifestyle block

We know ourselves we usually drink while we eat a meal. To encourage your animals to eat well, they need fresh water. As installing troughs on your lifestyle block can take some planning, we’ve asked Ashleigh Dobson, PGG Wrightson Technical Expert in Animal Production, for her advice.

Aim for fresh, cool water

If you can, Ashleigh says, position your trough in the shade as it will help keep the water cool and encourages your animals to drink. Turns out animals aren’t keen on drinking warm water!

With say calves and cattle, bred commonly for sale or for your freezer, it’s important to maximise their growth and you assist in that process by offering them plenty of water. As Ashleigh explains, an animal’s rumen and gut generates heat, so if the animal is hot, it will eat less to help cool itself down. By offering cool water, the animal will eat well and this will contribute to producing the size of animal you’re wanting at culling.

Trough placement: on the ground or attached to a fence?

To make this decision, consider the animals you have. As a general guide, Ashleigh suggests troughs attached to fencing will help keep the water cleaner, as can’t be soiled easily by animals. Fence troughs are a better option for older animals and / or taller ones, so that’s horses or cows, and only when there’s a few in a paddock. When you have more animals in a paddock, Ashleigh says a ground trough offers greater access.

Fence troughs are a great option also for installing in pens. For one specifically designed for calves, take a look at this trough from McKee Plastics.

Choosing the shape of the trough

Round troughs, Ashleigh suggests are suited to bigger animals, like cows, as more animals can drink at one time. Oblong troughs in contrast may be better suited to smaller animals: sheep, goats and pigs. According to Ashleigh, oblong troughs can be shallower than round ones, so consider the number of animals using the trough and choose one that will maintain the water at a sufficient level to keep it cool for drinking.

View RXP Super Troughs shaped both rectangular and round.

Plastic or concrete?

Are you looking for a trough that is portable or one that will be a permanent fixture in your paddock? For a permanent solution that’s robust, chose a concrete trough. If you’ve got a big paddock, Ashleigh suggests placing one at either end of the paddock so the water is easily accessed by the animals.

For a robust, oblong concrete trough view Hynds Concrete Trough.

For a more versatile option, go with a plastic trough which is easy to clean and durable, being made from UV resistant materials. With a plastic trough you also get the added benefit of portability. If, for example, you’re break feeding and need to move animals in stages through a paddock, a plastic trough gives you this flexibility. With a portable trough, as Ashleigh says, all you need to do is disconnect it, empty the water and move it to the new location in the paddock. In winter, this portability allows you to reposition the trough away from mud that tends to form around troughs in wet weather.

For a trough specifically designed for ease of moving, view RXP’s Porta Trough.

What if I have more than one type of animal in a paddock?

The aim is to ensure all animals have easy access to water. If you’ve got shorter animals, Ashleigh suggests having a trough at ground level, especially if you have younger animals, such as lambs or calves. Ashleigh does point out that the lower the trough, the easier it is to be soiled by larger animals, so may need regular cleaning.

Do you have horses?

Ashleigh says a deep trough is ideal for horses so there is plenty of water available and it’s kept cool. To help prevent horses from soiling the water in a ground trough, Ashleigh suggests using a trough designed with a thick wall that means the horse has to lean in to drink, as this short distance will help prevent the horse from contaminating the water with its number twos!  

For a permanent trough, here’s Hynds Round Concrete Trough with valve protector.  

Ashleigh’s top tips

When considering what size trough to purchase, note that if you have a bossy animal dominating the trough, the accessible area by the other animals is reduced. She also points out you’ll need a trough that will deliver a peak volume of the water, as demanded in the heat of the day, so the trough doesn’t need re-filling frequently leading to the animals being made to wait for a drink. To better understand what trough is most suited to your needs, investigate the animal’s daily water requirements, and from there you’ll know what size of trough to purchase. As a rough guide, on average, a dry sheep can drink up to 10 litres per head per day, dry cattle drink up to 100 litres per head per day and weaner calves can drink up to 70 litres per head per day.¹

Lastly, Ashleigh says there’s no hard and fast rule to troughs, so view our complete range online and choose from our selection of round, oblong and rectangular troughs available in a variety of holding capacities.

Reference: 1. Agriculture Victoria. How much water does my farm need? Retrieved from