Make or attach food and water bowls sufficient high, not because it would be easier for the animals, naturally they eat and drink on ground level, but because there comes in less dirt.

houten watertrogA watering trough should be stable, otherwise he gets thrown upside down and emptied. The shape can help: rather low and wide, then narrow and high. So high that the animals cannot step easily on or in. Therefore, you also better can put the bucket against a wall. Then you can additionally also attach it to the wall.
The weight may also enhance the stability, a concrete base, such as, for example, those also used to stabilize flower pots, makes a lot of difference.
Certainly the interior must be smooth and easy to clean: enamel, stainless steel, plastic or metal.

You can use a bucket, and lay a cobble in it. Or stabilize the bucket by putting him in a car tire. Sheep or geese can quaff a bucket. Chicken don’t, even if they can stand on that band. So refilling in time! (Don’t wait till it’s empty.)

For chickens you find galvanized bucket drinkers that are close for 85% at the top. If you lay them filled water runs into a gutter for the opening. I do not use them because you cannot clean the inside.
The plastic poultry water fount you can reverse on their lid with drinking rim around you can clean. Place them on a few bricks, a little higher from the ground, so chickens do not scrape so much dirt in it.
If there is a crack or hole along which air can enter, the system stops working and the tank is emptied. Glue or soldering may well be able to restore it yet (for a while).

For rabbits, there are commercially drinking bottles with a nipple (like for hamsters).
With a solid (glass or thick plastic) bottle that you assemble reverse into a drinking container (e.g. a sardines tin) you can easily create an automatic feeder. Make sure the neck hangs an inch above the soil, so that enough water runs in the receptacle. Thin-walled PET bottles (soda) are not useful, they deform and deflate.
(Nipple drinker systems also exist for chickens, but for some reason I find that a bit strange, unnatural and an industrial idea.)

I got several times the question how high a waterer should be (for different species). Make no problem! All animals drink at soil level. There you will find natural water. Barely higher. They lick, slobber, or suck or pik. Observe them once again. If I place troughs higher it is because it's easier for me, but mainly because the water then is less soiled by the soil around it.

For larger animals often barrels or tubs are used. Put them on a paved or raised area, otherwise it quickly becomes a mud around it. Provide if possible, especially for aquatic animals (ducks and geese), sheep and all the heavier animals for drainage of spilled water. Otherwise they are on this crowded place too often and for too long with their legs in the mud.

If the temperature goes below zero, your water troughs freeze. At night it is usually colder than during the day. You can then possibly put the buckets inside to thaw. You can give better in winter several times a day a little water. One bucket outside and the other inside. If it remains out while long freezing, you will have frost damage and that makes the trough unusable.

To make food and water bowls clean I use for many years a solid toilet brush. Much more convenient than a (small) washing brush or a (too soft) hand brush.

The Celts digged waterholes for livestock. These were reinforced with (alder) poles and (willow) branches, and against silting made ​​dense with clay and moss.

For chickens and roosters you make above the manger a loose swivel stick or a roof to avoid them to stand up and walk, or sit on it, and drop their dung in.
(In <Henhouse> you find information about the automated feeder.)

A rack is mounted on a head height of the upright animals angled fodder rack or hay bars in which mainly hay is fed. Make the bars so close together that there is as little hay lost or spilled. But so wide that the animal can reach it, so wider for a horse than for sheep. Make sure the bars are smooth, with no sharp parts as nails and splinters. A nose and a mouth are very sensitive and vulnerable.
If you make a rack outside you obviously care for a roof, so the hay stays dry.
Place the rack so low that the animals do not breathe in too much dust swirling down when eating.


The manger I make under the rack, so that spilled hay not immediately falls on the ground, but can be eaten from the trough also. The trough should be wide enough. The animal that stands in front needs room to bite e.g. pieces of fodder beet with open mouth. And of course he must be long enough to give a place to all the different animals. Otherwise the strongest eat everything and become even stronger, and the weakest ever weaker. Never feed the animals more than they finish. What is too much and remains, corrupts and attracts vermin (rats and mice).
Hay and clean water should always be in abundance.

A trough is a low feeder for pigs. There were earlier cast iron models. But mostly they were cast in concrete, brick or hewn out of stone. If they are not fastened heavy and sturdy, they are transformed by the pigs rooting and wallowing through barn and pasture.
If you have or make such a heavy thing or lay bricks it is useful if you provide one lockable steel tube (water pipe with screw cap) as drain. So you can anyway wash and rinse the not manipulatable bin, and let the water run out. The tube must have some decay and come out above ground (or (manure) discharge chute).
Do not use plastic or wood , it’s being bitten.
In order to avoid that pigs run in and trough the trough and fodder it is best built in or under the stable wall. You can also provide some heavy iron bars. On the one hand, the pigs can slobber, on the other hand, you can run an deliver undisturbed.
If you would enter into the barn there is a good chance that they walk you upside your feed for that tasty bucket.

Make trough and manger wide enough, possibly with a lattice layout, so that all animals can eat at once.

Grazers and scavengers with sufficient foraging I just give in the evening some concentrates. It 's a shame to give it mornings or during the day. Then I actually prefer them grazing instead of lying. Of the food they get in the evening the energy is not used to walk around, but rather to rest satisfied and to convert feed in meat. An additional advantage is that they are habit to come to the stable just for the evening. Especially in cold periods, they can better be inside at night.