Clean Troughs – Necessity or just nice to have?

Water is the single most important component of any livestock enterprise, according to Sheep Connect SA, (2019) and is a direct driver of the extent of weight gain in livestock.

Science has been speaking volumes when it comes to the importance of cleaning out troughs.  The definitive ingredient in livestock converting feed to weight gain is water. The more fresh, clean water stock consume, the more they eat, and the quicker the conversion of feed to weight gain.

Government agricultural bodies (see Reference List below) have been providing research analysis for years, indicating that when cattle are provided with high quality water, they will:

  • drink more
  • eat more
  • gain weight quicker

It is known that dry matter intake is highly correlated to water consumption — the more an animal drinks, the more it eats and vice versa (Murphy et al 1983).

Because weight gain in livestock is a priority for farmers, it is worthwhile ensuring that stock water is of high quality. The key to increasing water consumption is a clean, cool and fresh supply of water. The difference in livestock preference between dam and trough water has been based on observation but historical data backs this train of thought.


Willms et al (2002) reported that yearling heifers that had access to clean water pumped from a well, spring or river gained 23% more weight than heifers with access to dam water only. It was also found that when dam water was pumped to a cattle trough, the trough was preferred over dam water.

Having a quick, easy and effective cattle water trough cleaning routine literally yields dollars.

Concrete trough cleaning – a fairly routine job that will become quicker and easier with a Conron cattle trough. Listed below are some useful resources that demonstrate the impacts of water quality to livestock productivity.

References and further reading material

Agriculture Victoria, Page last updated: 24 Nov 2020, Stock perform better when drinking from troughs

AWI Sheep Connect South Australia, (2019), Water Quality for Livestock,  Source: Livestock Water Supplies, FS No. 01/07, Primary Industries and Regions SA

Landefield, M. and Bettinger, J. (2002) Water Effects on Livestock Performance. Agriculture and Natural Resources, Ohio State University

Murphy, MR., Davis, CL., McCoy, GC (1983) Factors affecting water consumption by Holstein cows in early lactation. Journal of Dairy Science 66:35.

Willms, WD., Kenzie, OR., McAllister, TA., Colwell, D., Veira, D., Wilmhurst, JF., Entz, T., and Olson, ME. (2002) Effects of water quality on cattle performance. Journal of Range Management. 55:452- 460.