Stable Management – Keep the trough clean

Moon and water
Creative Commons License photo credit: pflyIt seems as soon as I fill the trough there are water bugs dancing through it. Do these bug pose a problem to my horse or should I be more diligent cleaning the trough? In the past I have just dumped the water out sprayed around the corners of the trough and then refilled it. Lately however, I have begun a schedule to clean and scrape the slime and debris from the sides and bottom of the trough.

If horses are left to their own devices they will find water when they are thirsty and if there is no clean water to be had they won’t drink. Some people resort to adding bleach to their trough. Adding small amounts of bleach (8 ounces per 1,000gallons) will keep the bacteria down but will keep the bleach levels acceptable for consumption.

I can’t help but not do this. Each time I try to tip some bleach into the trough I see the warning of the skeleton hand on the label. This has left me with another alternative to bleach.

Alternative ways to clean the trough

I use salt. At first I used grocery store plane Mediterranean sea salt but my horses didn’t care that it was all natural or for that matter Mediterranean. Rather than investing in a 1 kg box at inflated prices I went to the local farm shop and purchased a 50 lb bag of livestock salt for just about the same price.

To clean the trough I tip the water out once per week and sprinkle about ¼ of a cup on the damp interior of the trough. I figure if salt can be used as an exfoliant at the local spa then I can use it to abrade the goo from the sides of the trough.

Using the ever popular toilet brush (that, by the way has never set foot in a toilet) I scrub scrape and remove the green scum that has accumulated over the week. This always seems to be more in the summer months than in the fall and winter. Once complete I give the trough a rinse and VOILA a clean trough.8
Creative Commons License photo credit: missrightwing

 By using salt to clean the trough I do not worry about the chemicals and feel that if I do not rinse it well enough the salt residue will not harm my horses.

And as for the water beetles … I haven’t see one since. I guess they don’t like the salt either.

About Laura

Laura Kelland-May is the founder of Thistle Ridge Skill Builders Development Program. She more than trains horses, she trains people to train their horses. In addition she is a Sr. Judge and can offer insight into What the Judge Is Looking For. Follow her here and get more tips.
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5 Responses to Stable Management – Keep the trough clean

  1. Laura,

    What a great tip! I get about two days worth before I need to dump the trough for the farm-owned herd (when my yearling IDSH filly doesn’t do it for me – she was the go-to gal for breaking the ice in the winter and now she’s taught a couple more how much fun summer baths are from the trough). I won’t use bleach either (same reasons – maybe not justified as many drink this in public water, but I like my well). Funny, I use salt for killing the burdocks and weeds along the fence line (no way I’m putting Round Up within horse reach), but never thought about it for the water tub. Thanks.

  2. Laura says:

    thank you for your comments. And thanks for your great tip about killing the burdocks. I am positively OVERRUN with burs and my horses are complete with unicorn horns and sticks for tails there are so many burs. I will go and ‘sprinkle’ some salt on the burs now. I wonder if it will work on poison ivey as well.


  3. I’ve tried it on poison ivy and have stunted growth, but not killed the plants. On the burrdocks, it’s best if you salt liberally in the center of the plant (where the young shoots are growing). Let me know how it works for you.


  4. Mike says:

    I use a few goldfish in my 140 gallon trough, and have very little if any green slime…I just dump it out every couple of weeks (saving the fish in a bucket) and rinse and refill!

  5. Laura says:

    Thanks for your tip.
    I have heard of people doing this. I have never tried this as I am wondering about the fish poo in the water.

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