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How to Choose Livestock Watering Troughs for Different Farm Animals

a group of chickens

Raising any kind of farm animal is a task that sounds deceptively easy at first blush. There are almost endless factors to consider for their care and keeping, ranging from food and water to veterinary checks, proper temperature, and enough space per animal. Water is arguably one of the most essential requirements for any animal. Making sure they have enough, and easily accessible, is a foundational pillar of raising happy, healthy livestock.

When you’re choosing livestock watering troughs for your animals, you’ll want to consider what each species requires and make sure that the troughs are hardy enough to withstand the environment of your area. Today, we’re going to look at some of the most common breeds of livestock, their water requirements, and the kind of waterer that would be best suited to each.


Chickens have different water requirements at different ages and according to the type of bird they are. For example, laying hens require an average of 250L of water per day per 1,000 birds. Broiler chickens or meat birds, by contrast, require as much as 770L of water per day per 1,000 birds in warm weather. Before investing in any livestock watering troughs, take the time to survey the number and type of birds you have.

Since chickens are on the small end of livestock, you’ll want to find a waterer that is low to the ground, preferably with multiple access points to allow several birds to drink at once. You’ll also want to avoid any deep water dishes – even fountain-type waterers – if you’re raising any young birds, as they could accidentally fall in and drown. Look for plastic waterers, as steel can rust and is significantly harder to clean. Plastic, by comparison, is cheap, lightweight, and easy to look after.

Sheep and Goats

The average sheep goes through anywhere from 5 to 10 litres of water every day, on average. Again, you’ll want to check the requirements for your specific types of animals, regardless of whether you have sheep or goats in your care. You’ll also want to make sure that the water doesn’t freeze in the winter, which would prevent your animals from getting the hydration they need.

Look for a frost-free livestock waterer at an appropriate height for your animals. If you have a large flock, you may want to consider a trough to allow multiple animals to drink at the same time. If your herd is relatively small, or if they’re spread out over a large area, smaller watering stations will allow them to drink peacefully and whenever they require.

Dairy and Meat Cows

If you have dairy cows, be prepared to go through a lot of water. A milking cow needs an average of 115 litres of water per day. Meat cows, by contrast, have a much lower requirement, needing only 25-55 litres of water each day. Due to these larger water requirements, sturdy troughs are a great solution, especially for field water sources.

If frost concerns aren’t an issue (if, say, the cattle are kept in a temperature-controlled environment), tip tanks are a popular way to go for water due to their easy upkeep. True to the name, the tanks can simply be tipped onto their side to allow for simple cleaning. They can also be mounted on either a wall or floor, making them easily customizable to work around space restrictions.


A medium-sized horse weighing around 1,000 pounds will require an average of 32.5 litres of water per day, and this requirement goes up in hot weather or while performing heavy labour. Remember: always cool a horse down for 30-90 minutes after heavy work before offering them water. Doing so earlier can put your horse at risk of colic or founder, both of which can be fatal.

Horses will require water both when they’re in the stable and when they’re out on the field, so you may need multiple watering troughs available. Stable water sources can be regular plastic buckets, as long as they’re kept filled and out of the way in a designated corner of the stall. Always keep troughs and buckets clean (this includes scrubbing out any algae that forms), and if your waterer isn’t of the frost-free variety, you’ll need to break the ice on your waterers at least twice a day in cold weather.

For more information on our frost-free livestock watering troughs, give us a call at (519) 935-2211. We’ll help you find the best livestock waterer for your animals and your farm. You can also send us a message online.

SPI Plastics Inc.

165 Stoneman Drive, Box 100
(Shouldice Block Road & Joynt Street)
Shallow Lake, ON
N0H 2K0

T   519-935-2211
TF 800-269-6533
F   519-935-2174

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Friday: 8am to 4pm
Saturday & Sunday: Closed

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