What’s the best way to clean the water trough?
This chore can be a total pain, but if you do it on a regular schedule, it’s easy. Stock tanks and water troughs are great to keep a herd hydrated, but only if the water is clean. No horse (or human) wants to drink dirty water, it’s not safe or tempting. So, you can actually put your horse at risk for dehydration and other horrid things by not maintaining a clean trough.
There's no rule that says you need to keep the trough full - this trough is only filled 1/3 of the way and checked daily to refill as needed. Gives you less to clean and drain!
So what is the best way to do this?
Most troughs and stock tanks have a drain at the bottom for easy emptying of water. (This beats using buckets to empty a trough!) The safest way to drain the tank is to attach a hose and have the trough drain far away from the area where horses stand to drink. Think outside the fence, down a hill, and away from hooves. This keeps the footing around this high traffic area safe. It also prevents stagnant pools from forming that can attract insects.
The slime busting weapon of choice is any long handled super stiff brush. Or short handled, you decide. Toilet scrubbing brushes are handy to use. You can start scrubbing the walls of the trough as the water drains, or you could wait. Using an apple cider vinegar wash is also a good, natural idea to rinse the walls of the trough. Using apple cider vinegar is also harmless (and in many cases may be beneficial) to your horse.
I would avoid using bleach, just in case. Heavily diluted bleach (like 100 to 1) may be OK, but why risk it? Now you are ready to refill!
How can you keep the trough clean a bit longer? Try and figure out a way to keep birds and bugs from using the trough or stock tank as a bath, bathroom, or water source. For insects, you can change the water before larvae hatch. For most species of mosquitos, this is four days. Some species are longer, in which case you will see tiny wormy things bobbing up and down in the tank. Offering birds alternative baths may do the trick for you. Hang a smaller bird bucket away from the troughs to lure the birds there.
You may also find drowned critters in your troughs, in which case you need to clean it asap. To prevent drownings in the future, fix a length of wood to the side of your trough and let the other end bob in the water. This provides a ramp for escape should a frog, squirrel, or other critter get stuck. Floating wood or a soccer ball may also help your water stay unfrozen in the winter!
How do you clean your horse's water trough?