Providing your cattle with clean water is essential to maintaining the health of your herd. Dirty water can cause illness to spread throughout your livestock. Cattle will drink dirty water if that is all they can get. Keeping the water in your troughs clean is easy and inexpensive, especially when compared to the bills you'll have to pay to have the vet come out and treat your sick cattle.
Empty dirty water from the water trough. Mix a solution of one part bleach per 32 parts water and pour it into the trough. Let the mixture stand in the trough for 15 minutes to kill any existing bacteria. Scrub the sides of the trough with a scrub brush to remove any algae that has built up on the sides. Drain the solution, and refill the trough with clean water.
Pour 236ml of bleach into the trough for every 1,000 gallons of water. This is enough bleach to control the bacteria in the water trough, but not enough to keep the cattle from drinking the water or to affect their health. When you refill the trough as the cattle drain it, replenish the 236ml of bleach.
Separate any sick cattle from the herd and give them their own water trough. This prevents them from contaminating the clean water.
Place bales of hay against the base of the water trough. The cattle can still reach the trough, and they can put their front legs on the hay, but they won't lift their back legs to stand on the bales. This prevents the cattle from defecating in the trough.