Don’t you? That’s why when we went to Tractor Supply last year and saw a product called Stock Tank Secret, we thought it was worth a try. It’s a little bag full of barley straw that you just drop in your water tank, trough or whatever. The company claims that barley straw has been used in the UK for hundreds of years to help keep livestock water clear. So the day after we got it, I scrubbed the bucket clean (Stock Tank Secret says you don’t need to clean it first, but ours was pretty gross) and dropped it in. Then our most important product reviewers ambled over for a drink.
First, they looked at us like we might have dropped poison in their water. Then they nudged the sack, then nudged each other as if to say, “No, you try it!” and looked at us again, this time as if perhaps we’d dropped a small animal carcass in their water. After several minutes of nudging, sipping and head-shaking, Valentine finally decided he was thirsty enough he’d have to just go for it. They both got a drink, albeit still suspiciously, and hung around the water cooler for quite a while. Unsurprisingly, when we came out about an hour later to check the tank, the suspicious item was on the ground a few feet away.
They finally got used to it and left it alone, but did it work? Not really. I emailed the makers of the product to ask for further instructions, and the actual owner emailed back with his phone number. I called him and had a very nice conversation with him, in which he gave me one of my favorite quotes to this day: “A horse is just an animal spending its day trying to kill itself.” Unrelated to the stock tank, but true nonetheless. Anyway, he diagnosed the problem, which was that I had put the water tank in the shade. It needs sun to work. So we moved it to a nice sunny spot, where we also did not get good results. But we were using an itty bitty (about 20 gal) tub, off-white in color. We upgraded to a 100-gallon stock tank but by then it was winter and we kind of forgot about the Stock Tank Secret.
Fast forward to this year. We’re on our second 100-gallon water tank – the first one cracked and therefore leaked like a sieve. It also turned green within days of cleaning, and wasn’t much fun to clean – big, deep, with a ridge about halfway up because the bottom half isn’t as wide as the top. Why are they made that way? I’m sure there’s a good reason – other than making it harder to clean – but I don’t know what it is. (Perhaps to keep the horses from kicking it – well, they still do.) Anyway, when we got the new tank, we decided to try the Stock Tank Secret again. We’ve been using it for about a month now.
So, does it work? Kind of. It stays pretty clear of algae, which is what you have to scrub off. The water still gets nasty pretty quickly, because horses are very messy drinkers. They dunk their dirty muzzles all the way in, and backwash like crazy. We still have to empty that big old thing at least once a week and put clean water in, but we don’t really have to scrub it, which is nice. All in all, it is worth the small investment.
The small stall buckets and the goat buckets, unfortunately, are too small to pop one of these in, though, and still require scrubbing. Pretty sure the horses would eat it out of there, anyway, the goats definitely would. When someone invents an anti-scrub product for those, I’m in.