Troughs: Plastic vs. Metal


Farmers and livestock owners require certain supplies to ensure the well-being of their animals. One product that all livestock owners must have in their animal’s space is a water trough. They are designed to provide clean, fresh water for drinking throughout the day and can be purchased in either a plastic or a metal version. Those who are unsure whether plastic or metal water troughs are the right choice, should consider the following information to help them make their decision.

Metal Troughs

Metal troughs are the traditional solution for providing water to livestock. They are the most durable option, but they also require more maintenance. One of the top issues with metal or galvanized troughs is preventing algae growth. In order to safely provide water, a metal trough requires the use of a plastic liner. These liners must be regularly cleaned to prevent animals from becoming ill when algae begins to grow.

Another point to keep in mind with metal troughs is that the metal trough will expand and contract with temperatures which weakens the connection and requires the surface they are resting on to be level and well maintained. Although they are stronger and can handle more abuse than plastic counterparts, the plastic liner must be handled carefully and can be easily damaged during cleaning and even by livestock. However, though metal troughs can be dented, and require frequent cleaning to prevent rust and contamination, they may be a good choice for larger animals that can create heavy wear and tear. Additionally, they come in larger sizes which is handy for situations where there are several large animals sharing the watering space, such as in the case of a horse trough. Some reasons to choose metal over plastic include:

  • Durability
  • Larger
  • Long lasting with proper care

Plastic Troughs

Plastic troughs offer a wide variety of benefits for both animals and owners. They are made from durable food grade plastic that ensures water stays cleaner and safe for animals to drink. In addition, unlike metal troughs, plastic versions help prevent algae build-up and can help keep the water from heating up during the day, especially if the plastic is UV resistant.

Plastic troughs are also very sturdy and can handle plenty of wear and tear, even from larger animals like cows and horses. They are lightweight compared to the metal versions and can be connected to other materials without considering expansion and shrinking of bolts and screws as a result of the changing temperatures throughout the year. They are also easier to handle and don’t rust or deteriorate as quickly as the metal version. Plastic is also an ideal option for a situation where several different types of animals will use the same trough or where the trough will be moved occasionally. Some reasons to choose plastic troughs includes:

  • Easier to maintain
  • Flexible
  • Keep water cooler

Consider the size of the livestock and the amount of maintenance each choice requires before making a selection. People who have smaller livestock and wish to avoid frequent maintenance to avoid risks to the animals from contamination from rust and algae should consider plastic, whereas people with many large animals on a working farm may choose to select metal troughs.