Setting Up Temporary Water Troughs

Using relocatable or temporary water troughs over the summer autumn period makes it much easier to achieve more even grazing. Benefits from well positioned and relocatable water points include:

  • Improved livestock condition
  • Reduced trampling of plant material and fragile soil
  • Less pressure on existing water points and lower risk of water loss
  • Greater removal of seeds which build weed, mice and disease problems
  • More even distribution of nutrients from dung and urine

The idea is to set up temporary water points that can be positioned to maximise livestock condition and soil cover over the summer autumn period and then shifted prior to cropping.

Adequate shade is also a key factor in improving livestock production over the summer period. Temperatures over 28 degrees can affect livestock productivity. There are around 70 to 80 days in the Mid North with temperatures over thirty degrees.

Replicated trial work in South Africa demonstrated a 26% reduction in water consumption and a 3.8% increase in lamb weaning weight for merino ewes with access to shade over the summer autumn period with no increase in feed consumption, when compared to sheep with no shade.

A galvanised iron roof (3 X 5 metres in area raised 2 metres) off the ground was used to provide shade for the fifty merino ewes and the research was conducted over a two year period.

Temporary Water Points

There are many ways to setup temporary water points for livestock.
Using a holding tank at the livestock trough is essential to supply livestock with cool water when using above ground pipe during the summer autumn period to a temporary trough.
Key principles to keep in mind for water point design for three hundred sheep are:

  • A flow rate into the water trough of one litre per second, during peak summer periods will reduce sheep camping around water points and rushing and jostling to get a drink
  • Depending on the feed source, sheep usually drink less than seven litres per day in the summer period (300 Sheep will drink up to a total of 2,100 litres a day)
  • A 3.6 metre long trough supplied with one litre per second is sufficient for 300 sheep
  • If relying on water height to achieve adequate water flows from the holding tank into the water trough, a water height of around two metres above the trough will be required.

A 12 volt bilge pump can reduce the vertical height and quantity of water needed in the tank to supply an adequate supply of cool water to the livestock trough throughout the day. A float switch will be needed to switch on the bilge pump when the water trough is low.

Keep in mind if you are thinking of leaving the tank on a trailer, that you will need a sturdy trailer and less than 2,000 litres in the tank to shift it safely with most 4WD utes. Using a 12 volt bilge pump will provide an adequate flow of water to the livestock with an almost empty tank, making it easier and safer to shift the tank. Relocatable tanks can also be repositioned during cropping and used for supplying water for general farm use, such as cleaning equipment and spraying.

For more information contact Michael Richards, 0427 547 052,