A SOLUTION to the long-running problem of keeping the water in troughs clean looks to have been found, thanks to some applied technology in the way livestock water is managed.
Trough Pumping Systems principal Chris Grieger has been working on the challenge of not only keeping troughs clean in both feedlot and paddock conditions, but also improving the quality of the water.
The solution has been in many cases to treat 'hard' water using a tried and tested magnetic water softening machine where necessary, but also to keep water constantly moving to aerate and oxygenate.
Magnetic water softening machines are widely used in domestic applications, particularly to enable soap to lather and to reduce the damage to household plumbing fittings.
"There's two parts to this big challenge for the cattle and sheep industries," Mr Grieger said.
"It's about keeping the water clean, and equally, improving the quality of the water that the animals are drinking.
"What is clear is that the better the quality of the water, the better animals perform."
The breakthrough in managing water in troughs lies in the use of a circulation system powered by an 18V solar-powered pump. This system keeps the water constantly in motion and, importantly, keeps the water oxygenated.
"Most bore water has low levels of oxygen, and also in warm water, the oxygen is rapidly depleted," Mr Grieger said.
"Once that occurs, the environment is perfect for the rapid growth of algae and other potentially nasty pathogens."
Mr Grieger said constantly circulating water also helped to address the problems created by what was blown into the trough by wind and what was dropped in the troughs by the animals themselves.
"It's amazing how much mucus and debris cattle can deposit," he said.
Mr Grieger stressed that even troughs with constantly circulating water needed to be cleaned regularly, particularly in summer.
"It may lengthen the time between cleans, but the important thing is consistently high water quality."
CHRIS Grieger first started working on how he could control algae growth when he began manufacturing hot dipped galvanised troughs for the pastoral industry from his factory in Adelaide in 2008.
Although the troughs were certainly robust and popular with producers on large properties, copper sulphate used by some producers to control algae was literally eating into the life span of the troughs.
"Algae is obviously a big problem in all trough types because it affects water quality and that affects the performance of livestock," Mr Grieger said. "However, the problem, particularly in galvanised troughs, is that the copper sulphate treatments react with the zinc in the protective gal coating."
Mr Grieger said by constantly circulating the water in the trough, the water remained aerated, which dramatically inhibited algae growth. The result was, in some cases, a doubling of the lifespan of a galvanised trough.
The system has been trialed for up to three years in both sheep and cattle feedlots as well as paddocks and is expected to be available in mid-July.