I have my horses coming next week and I'm about to buy my first water trough ever (as this is the first time I have had my horses at my house and not boarded somewhere), and I don't know if I should get a plastic water trough or a metal one. I live in mid Tennessee where we don't get much snow but we do have nights in the teens. And then it can get quite warm in the summer. I do have some trees for shade but not enough to where the troughs wouldn't get sun exposure. What has worked for you and what do you prefer?
I've used both and much prefer the plastic ones for all the above-mentioned reasons. I have one horse who loves to kick the water trough and he would regularly destroy metal tubs. To date, he has not succeeded in destroying a plastic one!
I've found algae grows more quickly and is harder to clean in my Rubbermaid. It sticks to that plastic like glue. And it has too many ridges/edges/whatnot to grow the algae. Very hard to clean it out of the drain area.
The two 100-gallon Rubbermaid tanks I had weren't worth a shit. They ALWAYS leaked around the drain plug (even after I sealed them), and one of them cracked just enough on the bottom to be able to leak out 100 gallons overnight.
The 40-gallon TuffStuff tank I thought was wonderful -- until -10*F proved too much for it and it split across the bottom.
The other plastic one I have is some off-brand thing (not sure if it's 50 or 60 gallons) I got second hand. It seems durable enough, but it is just big enough that it's hard to dump, but not big enough to hold two days worth of water.
Metal tanks are heavy, but a dent doesn't usually affect their ability to hold water.
None of the tanks I spent money on were really any better than the old bathtub I got for free.
Here's a tip for the Rubbermaid:
If you have a choice between the darker gray/black and the lighter gray, go with the lighter. We have one of each and the darker builds up algae more quickly in the summer...the lighter one can go several days longer.
My plastic 100-gal Rubbermaid tank is going on 12 years daily use now with no problems whatsoever. No cracks, no leaks, even though my mare has a habit of grabbing the edge in the summer and dumping it over. Man, that mare must have some powerful neck muscles.
Yes, it can quickly build up algae in the summer, but since I dump, scrub and fill all my water tubs every 2-3 days (or daily if it's really hot outside), algae/cleaning it is not a problem. I don't pull the drain plug to empty it; I bail it out with a bucket until the level is low enough that I can easily dump the rest out.
I use an auto wheel-cleaning stiff-bristle brush for cleaning - it has a nice handle about 12" long and is angled slightly for getting into corners.
I also use a 2nd water tub (because of my alpha gelding) which is one of those cheapie muck bucket clones from the Dollar Store/Wal-Mart/grocery store. Super easy to keep clean and when it starts cracking, it goes into its second life as a gathering pot for my bundled hay bale strings or my hay net filling "device".
In winter, I use two heated muck buckets (coils built into the inside of the sides, so nothing is exposed). I've been using those same two for 10 years now, and they're still in excellent shape. I tried the drain-plug heater thing for my big Rubbermaid tank, but it only worked for one season, and I've never liked using tank heaters with exposed coils anyway. I do still keep my Rubbermaid tank filled in the winter as a back-up water source in case of a power outage since it never gets cold enough to freeze it entirely.
Have fun having your horses at home - IMO, that's the best way to go!
After using the galvanized metal, the black rubbermaid tanks, muck tubs and the bath tubs, I would either try the light grey rubbermaid tank or go with the muck tubs or the bath tub. Frankly, the horses love drinking the water in the muck or bath tubs during hot weather better than drinking out of the black rubbermaid tanks. And the tubs are far easier to clean.
Another factor that plays into this is the cost of heating the water if you are living in a cold climate. The Rubbermaid heaters work well, but cost more to run than sinking or floating heaters, which can be tossed out of the tank. The one thing you can't do with the rubbermaid tank is put in a sinking or floating heater. It they toss it out and it lands on the tank, it melts the tank down. (A friend walked out after a snowstorm and thought her tank was half-buried in snow. It was melted to half it's size due to a tossed out heater.)
If you don't have a lot of horses pastured together, and don't need heated water, I would simply go with muck tubs. They are great for this, and easy to clean.
Giant rubbermaid in the winter/spring. The larger your water source, the less you have to worry about it freezing.
"Muck Buckets" in the summer. Muck buckets have a slicker texture and virtually no algea will stick to them. Literally dumping the bucket and splashing will remove any algea on the sides or bottoms. Plus smaller troughs = refilled more often = cooler, tastier water = more drinking. The $10 hose-connecting auto-waterers will attach and work well on muck buckets.