Clean water troughs are a key aspect of good health and performance in the feedlot, but the frequency of cleaning can vary considerably between operations. The "Feedlot 99" study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Animal Health Monitoring System revealed that nearly all feedlots clean their water troughs at least once during each season of the year. Only a few, 3.6 percent, cleaned their troughs annually or semi-annually.

According to the NAHMS data, the number of days between trough cleaning tended to be the lowest during the summer, 12.7 days, and greatest during the winter, at 15.7 days.

Perhaps the most significant difference shown in the NAHMS figures is the difference between large feedyards and smaller operations in terms of how often they clean their water troughs. During each season of the year, the interval for cleaning waterers for larger feedlots was approximately one-half that of small feedlots.

Feedlot capacity (Average number of days)
1,000 to 7,999 head 8,000 or more head
Winter 18.3 9.6
Spring 15.5 8.5
Summer 15.0 7.5
Fall 15.5 8.2