Are you looking for better tricks for keeping livestock water from freezing during Winter?
Winter can be a brutal time. Ice storms, snow and bitter cold is not only hard on us humans. It’s hard on our animals as well. Especially when the cold lasts for days upon days. It seems never ending, doesn’t it?
It seems like we could all use winter systems to help us get through. Tricks to make our life easier where we didn’t have to worry or work so hard. One of the best systems you can set up today is keeping that water from freezing.
Picture this: A system that is less work for you. Less ice that you’ll have to break daily. Less busted waterers to replace. Less stress over all! I think that sounds nice!
In this post, I will:
- Provide tips and tricks for keeping livestock water from freezing.
- Explain how difficult it is keeping water ice free during winter.
- More Winter tricks for keeping livestock safe and warm.
I also want to add that over the past 30+ years of raising livestock during Kansas winters, we have tried all of the systems I’m about to share with you. Some work better than others for us. However, you might find just what you need on this list for wherever you are.
Anything is better than breaking ice by hand, right?
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Automatic Watering Systems
Obviously my favorite and easiest watering system is the automatic waterers for cattle. My dad, who has been in the Plumbing, Heating & Air business his entire life, recommends and sells Mirafount waterers at his shop. He also installs them as part of the package.
Therefore, it’s the only automatic watering system I know and now use. Especially in winter when ponds are frozen. Cows, goats, sheep, pigs and even the chickens all drink from the Mirafount systems.
Mirafount ball waterers work great for us in Kansas. They do freeze in extremely negative temperatures but are very easy to thaw. The balls keep the water fresh, clean and thawed most of the time.
Insulating the Watering System
My dad will also tell you that a good watering system for winter needs insulation. When we installed the waterers here for our own livestock, we dug a square for pipe and then covered it with concrete.
You could also insulate with some kind of wood or rubber around the waterer. More on that later.
But, the solid pads work best when it comes to automatic waterers this close to the ground. We had my dad bring his back hoe over but some we dug by hand. My advice is to have this done by a professional to make sure it’s right.
Another tip is to keep water indoors where the animals can come in and get them.
Tires or Rubber Tubs
If automatic isn’t your thing, rubber is really the way to go in the winter. We use rubber tubs in the pens that we don’t have automatic waterers in. They work really well when the water freezes and you have to break ice.
Metal Stock Tanks
Yes, in our early years we used metal stock tanks for watering our cattle. This was before we got automatic watering systems and we needed a bigger tank for the cattle. They need a LOT of water every single day and were draining the big stock tanks.
So, in order to keep them sustained and from freezing, we used an electric water heater and it worked well.
Water Trough Placement
Another thing you can do if you’re using stock tanks or buckets or rubber tubs is to place them close together and put some insulation around them. This can be in the form of tires or something else you have to help hold heat in.
Electric Water Heater
Stock tank heaters are very good ways to keep water from freezing. This is what we used before we had automatic watering systems.
One issue with them is if you would happen to have an ice storm and lose electricity. Another issue is if you don’t have electricity. Don’t worry – There’s a solution.
Using Propane instead of Electricity
The solution to power outages and the fear of losing electricity is propane! A simple propane unit can be hooked up to your watering system in no time. The only thing you’ll need to be sure of is that the pilot light doesn’t go out and keep your system from doing its job.
Deicing Stock Water without Heat?
Yes! Check out the water circulatory systems designed to keep water motion moving and circulating. Most of what you’ll find at your local farm store is run on batteries but you can also hook them up to solar power.
Many many people will use heated buckets if they have a few animals in a pen. This isn’t very ideal if you have a lot of animals.
However, these buckets do work well under very cold temperatures.
My Thoughts on Heat Lamps
I don’t recommend using heat lamps. I really don’t think they do much good when it comes to tricks for keeping livestock water from freezing.
Plus, they have been known to be a fire hazard. So, I really don’t recommend them at all for this reason.
If the Watering System Does Freeze?
Tried and true, none of the watering systems are 100% matched up to extreme cold weather and temperatures. Even automatic waterers will freeze up. Typically the ball or the lids will freeze down and the animals can’t get to the water.
Luckily, there are easy ways to overcome this. They just take time and energy. But it’s important to make sure your animals are getting water.
For the automatic waterers, we just release the plug, drain and let the waterer fill back up with new warm water. Also, you can take a mallet hammer that is rubber and knock around the sides of the ball or lid. This should release the ice holding it together.
Same with rubber tanks. Use a hammer or steel post to break ice. You can do this without breaking the rubber tanks.
No system is 100% fool proof against the weather. BUT, it will help you tremendously.
Why You Need a System
Systems saves sanity. We are all busy and the last thing we need is more work to do.
Most days, our systems will work flawlessly. Choose the system that is right for you and the climate you live in. And the animals you keep.
If you live in the North like I do, you know there will be days where those systems fail and that’s ok. I hope I’ve given you enough tools and tricks for helping you get through your winter months and keeping your livestock watered.