The Most Important Nutrient that EVERY Animal Needs

What is that all important nutrient you ask?


Water is the most important nutrient and the least discussed in animal nutrition. We take water for granted because for most of us, it is readily available. We have it in our homes and we spread it on our lawns. But it deserves more attention when it comes to feeding animals.

Water is just like any other feedstuff – it varies based on origin, location, and season. The water at my house is really, really hard – meaning it has a high mineral content. {Like so high that when we moved in, our toilet bowls were stained red from sitting with water in them and not being flushed for a while, not from lack of cleaning but because of the iron in the water!} Sometimes if you are dealing with a really specific diet or an animal that is having a mineral deficiency/overload, it’s the water! If you are having strange problems with your animals, get your water analyzed. You may be surprised what you find.

So here’s the deal with water quality, it’s variable based on what we discussed above but a big part of water quality depends on management {like most things!}.

Did you know that WATER is the most important nutrient every animal needs?!

Water Cleanliness Rule of Thumb: If you wouldn’t drink from it, your animals probably shouldn’t be either.

Now, of course I don’t mean that your animals shouldn’t drink secondary water sources or from streams. That’s just silly. Obviously they can do a lot of things we can’t when it comes to eating and drinking. I’m talking about visual cleanliness. If the trough is gross, clean it!! You wouldn’t want to drink out of a dirty glass would you? Also, some algae can be dangerous. Generally, blue/green is dangerous {the algae release toxins into the water} and red/brown is ok. But really, we should just clean it all up.

Confession: I suck at this. Like hardcore. I’m trying to be a lot better this year and so far I’m doing alright! Today I scrubbed all my animals watering vessels. And, of course, I forgot to take before photos. Which is convenient because they were still way dirtier than I would have liked! But I promise, it was an accident.

This is what I use to clean my buckets. Nothing too fancy. I think Dawn cleans the best and I use a hard bristle brush along with a strong hose sprayer.


Right now I just have two large buckets out for Delilah. They were already here when we moved in and already dirty. It is much easier to keep troughs clean when they don’t ever get too dirty. You can see there is still some algae on the bottom of this one. I need to find a scrubber that gets in little spaces better than the one I have. You can see that there is still stuff on the side of the bucket that I’ll probably have to scrape off. Or I’ll just buy a new {real} water trough. Probably the latter.


I also use rocks to scrape some of the stuff off that is stuck on pretty hard. I usually do a quick spray out every couple of days when I give her fresh water and that helps keep them clean for longer as well.


Here is her other bucket. This one isn’t perfectly clean either but it is cleaner than the other bucket and she actually prefers this one more. Animals do care about clean!


I also got crawled on by about 10 of these babies. Ew. The ecosystem that lives under water troughs really isn’t my fave.


You can get all the materials you need to clean your animals waterers at your local Cal ranch store. Click the image below to get start shopping!


This is my chicken’s waterer. It is way easy to keep clean because I bought it new and keep it from getting really dirty. Can you see the white streaks? That is hard water staining, not dirt. I could get it off, but it would really be a waste of my time. Hard water staining isn’t a problem but if you want to remove it, vinegar works really well.



I also cleaned the cats water bowl. It was the dirtiest. Cat’s are seriously disgusting. I love ’em, but my Animal Health and Hygiene Class ruined me for ever thinking of them as clean animals ever again.

Anyways, there you have it! Some tips, a confession, and a new perspective. As a side note, some people keep fish in their troughs to keep the algae away. I would like to try this but I have no idea how it really works and need to do some research. I’ll keep you posted! I’m all for minimizing management with effective symbiotic relationships.

Just remember: If you wouldn’t dip a glass in and take a sip – it needs cleaned! I’m going to be better about this too :).

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