It is astonishing the amount of water that livestock, in particular cattle, require per day. It is generally accepted that cattle consume up to 100-150 litres of water per day which means a herd of around 200 animals may drink up to 30 tonnes of water per day.

Securing a long term source of cool, clean water to livestock is an essential requirement for raising healthy animals and ensuring the future productivity of the grazing enterprise.

Using a trough based system for water supply to livestock, and excluding livestock from dams and creeks has many benefits, including:

Reduced Parasite Burden
Access to dams and creeks exposes animals to a much higher internal parasite burden as the areas around dams and creeks provide a habitat for these parasites.

Improved Water quality
Allowing cattle access to dams results in rapidly deteriorating water quality causing a lower intake of water and higher potential to impact on animal health.

Improved Drought proofing
Dirty or muddied dam water (turbidity) raises the temperature of the water and increases evaporation rates. Creeks can also suffer from constant livestock impacts over long periods, often resulting in structural instability of the creek banks and beds and a decline in the ease of access to water by livestock and potentially the loss of soil from highly productive areas.

Water pumped from a dam allows for the removal of almost all the water available from the dam – right to the very last drop. Dams that are accessed by livestock rapidly deteriorate in water quality, and bog livestock well before they empty.

Reduced Dam maintenance and reduced impact to creek systems
There is a cost associated with the maintenance of dams that are heavily impacted by livestock. This cost is not frequent but when it does occur it is usually substantial.

Increased flexibility for pasture / livestock management
Utilising water troughs is an important step towards taking advantage of the combined positive effects offered to a livestock herd. Moving to mobile troughs allows flexibility to fine tune the management of the grazing enterprise by allowing the modification of paddock sizes to better match the seasonal growth of pasture to the size of the herd.

Stationary Troughs versus Mobile Troughs

In my experience, fixed water troughs usually involve permanent concrete troughs. These can be placed at locations that allow for the water of several paddocks if the fencing has been designed to allow this to occur. Fixed troughs often result in substantial scaring around their vicinity eventually requiring rock fill to prevent the area around the concrete trough from becoming a bog. These troughs require cleaning, which is tedious.

In the past, mobile water troughs usually consisted of very poor quality plastic/metal troughs on skids. These troughs are not really suited to the rigors of watering livestock herds much larger than hobby farms. These troughs are also not suited to mobile applications as their frame is poor quality and will not withstand dragging.
Stationary and mobile systems require a certain investment on infrastructure and both systems have a probability (however small) of failure and require maintenance.

Both stationary and mobile trough systems require similar reticulation and pumping systems.
However the differences between these water trough systems may be summarised as follows:

Stationary Troughs

  • usually concrete
  • permanent infrastructure
  • scarring occurs around trough
  • many troughs required and involves higher costs than mobile troughs
  • many troughs – all require cleaning


Mobile troughs

  • very few required – reducing initial investment
  • no scarring around supply points with supply hose length of 20m or more-provide flexibility in paddock sizing
  • provides livestock ‘cue’ to move
  • flushed each time it is moved


Over the past 5 years, the Precision Grazing team has invested heavily in the development of a high quality mobile trough capable of withstanding daily moves and heavy use by cattle in extreme temperatures on an intensive rotational basis.

Smooth Move Trough