This morning I moved Otis into a new field of grass quickly. He had his hard feed and then went off grazing happily.
I knew the fencing was secure and it was clear of droppings, but when I got back a couple of hours later I realised I hadn’t checked his trough, just from a distance, as it was a double one between two fields. So I wandered over to the large, old fashioned metal field trough and was disgusted! The water was slimy, green, and opaque! Immediately we started emptying it with a nearby bucket, whilst holding the ballcock up to stop it refilling.
Soon it became apparent that a thorough clean was needed; the sides were silty and the bottom crawling with bugs and tiny red worms. Gross!
Otis watched in interest before turning his nose up in disgust – it stank like a rock pool!
Leaving the ballcock propped up on the upturned bucket we returned to the yard to get proper supplies – string to tie the ballcock up, brushes to remove the silt, a fence post to lever the trough up, and a square container for getting into the corners. Oh, and a snow shovel to help lift the grime at the bottom of the trough.
Then the work began; we scrubbed, rinsed, and emptied the trough, before trying to tip it up on its side in order to scrape the debris out. My helper, complete with his stout work boots, declared the electric fence off, so we proceeded to lift one side of the trough. Suddenly, I yelped, snatching my right hand off the trough. He looked at me in surprise – it wasn’t that heavy – then I yelped again, letting go completely of the trough so my poor helper was left grasping this substantial metal trough.
“The electric’s still on!” I cried, wriggling my fingers to get them functioning again. All I got was a look of surprise, as my helper continued holding the trough against the wire. He wasn’t being electrocuted!
We think it was his sturdy work boots that protected him, but we changed tactics anyway. He levered the trough up at one end while I rolled like a soldier during training (I’m sure it’s got a proper name) under the electric wire to scrape out the silt from the bottom of the trough.
All cleaned out, we let the ballcock drop and lovely crystal clear water started filling the trough. As the trough was so bad we’ll be doing it again on the weekend and then I’ll go back to my usual check every time I walk past it poo-picking.
Cleaning out water troughs is never a nice job, but the more frequently it’s done, the less it smells and the shorter the job is. But how many people remember to check and clean their troughs?
We’ve captures horses and made them live in one small area, preventing them wandering in search of the best water source, so it’s only fair that we supply the best water we can.
That means the water is clean: the trough is cleaned out regularly and the water source uncontaminated. The trough is big enough for the number of horses in the field and is easily accessible to reduce the chances of infighting. The trough itself needs to be safe, with no sharp edges or corners, the metal shouldn’t be rusty, and the pipe that supplies it secure so that playful ponies can’t chew it off.
In hot weather it is much easier to have a self filling trough, and I don’t think I’d consider turning a horse out 24/7 without one. What if they tip it just after you leave? That’s twelve hours until you return and they’re next offered water.
So hopefully this post has made you think about your water supply to your fields, and tomorrow you’ll go and check it, because it’s very easy to overlook a self filling trough when you are engrossed in your poo-picking!