Give Your Livestock the Clean Drinking Water They Deserve with Solariver

How to Keep Your Livestock Water Trough Clean and Algae-Free

Whether you keep a couple of chickens or a herd of cattle, your livestock deserve clean and easily accessible drinking water. However, excessive warmth, light, or abundant nutrients can cause algae to flourish in standing water. 

When algae blooms in a livestock water trough, animals may shy away from drinking the water they need to thrive. Worse, if they ignore the signs that the water is unclean and drink anyway, they can end up sick. To top it off, scummy green algae isn’t a particularly pleasant sight for any nearby humans.

All in all, it’s worth taking steps to keep your livestock water trough clean and algae-free. Here are six ways to achieve that goal. 

Livestock water trough using solar powered aerator

#1 Keep Light Out

Most varieties of algae photosynthesize sunlight into energy. When you remove the sun from the equation, algae loses its ability to grow and multiply. 

Moving your water trough is the easiest way to keep it out of direct sunlight. Depending on your location, you may be able to place the trough up against a building, inside a barn, or under a thicket of trees. 

Unfortunately, larger troughs or natural water features are less mobile. In these cases, you can bring the shade to the trough with tarps or semi-permanent structures. Additionally, keep in mind that light doesn’t only come in from above. Opting for an opaque water tank will further decrease the possibility of algal growth. 

#2 Aerate the Trough

Algae also thrives in stagnant water. To keep the water in your livestock trough moving, consider installing an aerator. Aerators create ripples in your water feature, stirring up the surface area of the trough or pond to bring more water into contact with the air. More air contact means more oxygen in the water, which ultimately leads to a better, healthier water source. 

A solar-powered pond aerator is particularly useful for livestock troughs, as you won’t have to worry about having access to power when placing it. What’s more, your electrical bills likely won’t increase.

In addition to inhibiting algae growth, aerators can also:

  • Improve the quality of livestock drinking water
  • Break down bacteria
  • Curb mosquito populations
  • Keep water looking and smelling clean

If you decide to install an aerator, be sure to clean all pumps, filters, and tubes. Over time, debris may build up and block parts of the aerator, impeding normal function. A semi-regular cleaning will keep any issues at bay.

#3 Add Fish

If you’d rather add to your family of animals, you can enlist a team of fish to keep your livestock trough clean. Many species eat algae, so you can use them as an all-natural form of preventative water maintenance. 

Widely available fish that are known to eat algae include:

  • Goldfish
  • Koi
  • Common pleco
  • Tilapia
  • Rosy reds 

It’s essential to remember that fish are not just anti-algae tools—they’re living things. Adding fish to your livestock trough may remove one responsibility from your plate (cleaning algae), but it adds another (caring for the fish). 

Proper fish care might involve maintaining a specific temperature, providing food, or keeping predators at bay. You’ll also have to manage the waste your fish will inevitably produce.

#4 Use Algaecides

Algaecides are chemical solutions that kill algae. Adding algaecide to your water should keep most varieties of algae at bay. If you choose to use an algaecide in your livestock trough, always purchase an animal-safe product and follow the instructions provided. 

If you don’t want to buy algaecide, chances are you already have a solution at home: Bleach. Small amounts of bleach can keep algae from growing without harming livestock or discouraging animals from drinking the water. 

While drinking bleach may sound dangerous, it’s safe for some animals when used correctly. According to N.C. Cooperative Extension, an ideal ratio is 2–3 ounces of bleach per 50 gallons of water.

#5 Try Barley Straw

For a more natural approach to anti-algae additives, you can try adding a moderate amount of barley straw to the water. According to some sources, barley straw—a byproduct of barley cultivation—acts as a natural algae deterrent.

While the mechanism behind barley straw’s anti-algal properties is unknown, it nevertheless seems to work for some people. However, barley straw does not kill existing algae; it only helps prevent it from growing in the first place.

Note: When barley straw decays, it deoxygenates the surrounding water. Do not use barley straw as an algae solution if you already have fish in your trough or pond

#6 Scrub the Trough Regularly

Sometimes the best way to keep a livestock trough pristine is to grab a pair of gloves and clean it manually. In particular, you’ll want to remove any animal waste from the water. Manure contains nutrients that can contribute to algae blooms. 

A regular scrub also allows you to assess the quality and quantity of the water in your trough.

To clean the inside of your livestock trough, you’ll need: 

  • A firm-bristled brush
  • A source of clean water (such as a bucket or hose)
  • A shovel or scraper
  • An animal-safe disinfectant or soap
  • A pair of rubber gloves (optional)

If your livestock trough is currently full of debris or algae, you’ll want to undertake a manual cleaning before attempting any of the other tips on this list, as most of them are preventative.

Give Your Livestock the Clean Drinking Water They Deserve with Solariver

Ultimately, a clean trough benefits you and your livestock. You’ll spend less time cleaning and maintaining your water feature, and your animals will enjoy a clean source of fresh water.

With that said, keeping a water trough clean can be easier said than done. 

One of the most effective (and hands-off) tools for keeping your water clean is an aerator. At Solariver, we offer a durable solar-powered aerator that can improve water quality, remove algae-promoting minerals, and stop algae from growing. We also have a selection of other solar pumps for ponds and agricultural purposes.

To find the right product for your needs, take our short quiz. And if you have any questions or concerns about choosing the perfect pump, don’t hesitate to get in touch.