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12 Years
Mar 11, 2007
I brood my chicks in metal horse troughs, and today while hosing one out and preparing it for use this spring, I noticed a red, crusty film covering the bottom of the tub....Rust. So my question is can rust hurt chickens? If they scratch it up or cut themselves and step on it? I know we get tetanis (spelling??) shots if we get an open cut and then come into contact with rust, but what about chickens?? I really don't wanna have to throw this trough out, but I don't want my chicks getting sick and dying, either.


Flock Mistress
12 Years
Apr 20, 2007
Ontario, Canada
Rust doesn't give you tetanus, so you can relax about that
(You may be thinking about the stereotypical 'getting tetanus from stepping on a rusty nail' scenario, but the rustiness of the nail or lack thereof has nothing whatsoever to do with getting tetanus -- tetanus is caused by a bacterium that grows in conditions that lack oxygen, such as the puncture wound you get from stepping on a nail)

I would seriously doubt that the rust (which is just iron oxide) itself would hurt chicks, although that is a guess/assumption rather than Documented Fact. However, I'd worry that there might be rusty *rough* spots that could damage their feet if they scratched down thru the bedding in the wrong place.

If it were me, I would not get rid of the trough, but I would sand it down (wear a dust mask, rust dust isn't great for your lungs) then paint it with a couple of coats of either rustoleum or epoxy paint. The epoxy paint is more expensive, and you NEED TO wear a fume type respirator mask, but it will last a lot longer than the rustoleum in damp conditions. OTOH if you only ever use the trough for brooding, and store it in a dry place between batches, rustoleum is probably sufficient.

Good luck,

Pat, who spent many a day in grad school painting the insides of metal stock tanks with epoxy paint for her dissertation research
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