Waterer for sheep


Loving the herd life
Jan 10, 2022
Reaction score
I've heard goats are 'very' picky about water quality and larger or deeper troughs pose a risk to kids. Sheep are not picky at all and will happily drink pond scum.

Freezing isn't an issue here, so can't comment on that, but we use alkathene pipe and fittings with rainwater collection (from a roofed IBC) on a gravity system with ballcocks - aka float valves.

I try to keep the troughs to a smaller surface area to limit the rate of evaporation as much as possible, or have them shaded, and keep a bunch of flexi-tubs handy for temporary placement.

When we moved in here, there was only one proper trough feeding two of the smaller paddocks and the main paddock trough wasn't properly irrigated. It's been a bit of an uphill battle moving the water around, but I now have 3 reliable water sources out there, which I'm happy with.
I’ve been toying with a new gravity fed system for Summer pasture (which is daily on the move). A 300 gal. Trailered ‘Water Buffalo’ (old military troop water carrier tank on wheels) andd multiple shallow gravity fed troughs using a simple toilet valve covered on one end of the trough with a piece of sheet metal. They have the pluses of being cheap, incredibly reliable for years and can be adjusted for whatever depth I like. I have had goats and they prefer clean and fresh but there were a few times that I got behind and the tub got a bit….’green’. It was not their preference but they never went thirsty…just a bit vocal. My sheep on the other hand will actually deprive themselves if I don’t keep it clean and clear. Oddly, they get spooked if they can’t see the bottom of the trough. I’m going to shallow system all around but will be buying internally heated hose to take the water from a heated tank through the heated hose to a heated trough. My biggest gripe with this system is that it uses a lot of electricity at a time when energy is soaring in cost….but that’s NEXT Winter! This one is pretty much over…a couple more weeks.


Herd Master
Mar 13, 2015
Reaction score
Shadow Hills, CA
My biggest gripe with this system is that it uses a lot of electricity at a time when energy is soaring in cost…
Try small solar panels to run the individual heating for the sheep water pipes.

We have several small pastures with anywhere from 4 (ram pen), 10 (breeding pen), up to 6 ewes and 12 lambs (creep), with individual buckets in each jug. The night fold holds up to 15 ewes and growing lambs/yearlings and those sheep are out on a larger field from morning to dusk. We keep large water troughs in each and fill each day. As the troughs get dirty DS1 scrubs them with a toilet brush purchased for this purpose weekly.

It doesn't freeze here and we make sure the troughs are filled in the summer to avoid having warm or hot water for the sheep. We used to use floats for our water troughs when we had goats but they liked to play with them so we removed them. We used auto drinkers for the horses too but in summer the ush valves would get really hot and the horses would not drink as much. We like being able to keep track of how much water our animals are drinking - sometimes not drinking can signal a health problem.