How to build a cattle feed trough

Updated February 21, 2017

Cattle are messy eaters and will scatter grain and pellets all over the ground while eating. A trough is one of the simplest ways to contain feed and prevent waste, although premade troughs are often expensive. In addition to reducing feed costs, troughs prevent cattle from ingesting rocks or other foreign materials that can sicken your herd. Transform an empty 248 litre (55 gallon) barrel into a cattle trough in one afternoon.

Cut an empty 248 litre (55 gallon) barrel down the centre horizontally with a reciprocating saw. This splits the barrel in half, leaving 2 C-shaped feeder bases.

Wash each base with soap and water. Pour a few drops of soap in the bottom of each barrel half and fill with 5 or 7.5 cm (2 or 3 inches)of water. Scrub the bottom and sides of the feeder with a stiff brush and rinse with the hose. Invert each half and allow to air dry.

Drill approximately 15 holes through the bottom of each base. Use a 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) drill bit, which is large enough to drain water from the feeder, but not large enough to allow feed to escape. Distribute the holes evenly along the feeder for rapid drainage.

Invert each feeder and set it against a sturdy fence post. Drill 2 holes through the back of the feeder into the post. Insert a bolt into each hole and tighten with a spanner to secure the feeders to the fence.


Rinse each barrel well to remove all traces of soap. Cattle have fairly strong digestive systems, but may experience stomach problems if they ingest leftover soap.


Never use barrels that originally contained any toxic substances. Look for barrels used to house fruit syrups or other harmless products.

Things You'll Need

  • 248 litre (55 gallon) barrel
  • Reciprocating saw
  • Soap
  • Hose
  • Stiff brush
  • Drill
  • Bolts
  • Spanner
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About the Author

Louise Lawson has been a published author and editor for more than 10 years. Lawson specializes in pet and food-related articles, utilizing her 15 years as a sous chef and as a dog breeder, handler and trainer to produce pieces for online and print publications.