Frozen Horse water

Discussion in 'Equine' started by Kathie, Jan 4, 2018.

  1. Kathie

    Kathie Well-Known Member

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    My husband passed away in December and I am trying to take care of his 3 horses. I have 3 steel water tubs at the barn (no electricity or water at barn). I have been using a pick axe to break their ice morning and evening. The spigot is frozen at the well house at the house from which he always watered the horses. He ran PVC pipe down the hill to the barn, put a screw end on it so he could attach a water hose. So now I can't turn on the water and fill the water tubs. I'm wondering if it's ok to use a Coleman blow torch to melt the 4" of ice on the top of the water? That would probably give them enough water to drink until the spigot thaws out or my son gets here to help me. I have used the blow torch on the spigot (it's one of those metal pipes that stick out of the ground about 4') but have had no luck in getting it thawed. It's supposed to be in the 40's tomorrow so maybe it will thaw.
     
  2. Irish Pixie

    Irish Pixie Well-Known Member

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    I'd use the blowtorch, it may take awhile and be careful not to melt the trough if it's the Rubbermaid type. I hope it works, let us know OK?
     
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  3. Kathie

    Kathie Well-Known Member

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    Thank you. I didn't know if it would leave fumes from the fuel in the water and harm the horses. I will do it.
     
  4. Rob

    Rob Well-Known Member

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    When I was a kid and lived on a farm in Maryland, we use to float a couple of debarked pieces of firewood in the troughs. When the water froze, we could smack the logs with a small sledge which would generally break the ice long enough to give the horses something to drink.
     
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  5. Lisa in WA

    Lisa in WA Formerly LisainN.Idaho Supporter

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    I'm so sorry Kathie...what a terrible time for you.
     
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  6. Skamp

    Skamp Well-Known Member

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    Some sort of floating solid is really good advice as @Rob has suggested.

    Heating from the top is laborious, and inefficient. Since they are metal tubs, I suggest the pick axe as well as a warm up from underneath with the torch if needed.
     
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  7. Teej

    Teej Well-Known Member

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    My condolences on the death of your husband.

    Sounds like a blow torch is your best option at the moment. An ice pick won't do you any good once it's frozen solid but will work up until that point. Back when I had a problem with outside spigot freezing plus no tank heater I used to keep a cooler full of water in my utility room, drag it to the back door several times a day, and then lead my mare up to let her drink. Since you refer to the horses as your husband's I don't know if you're comfortable handling them so that might not work for you. I'd bring her up before work, as soon as I got home from work and right before I went to bed. Thankfully we usually only had short periods of time that it would stay below freezing so it was an occasional thing and not a winter long chore.
     
  8. wr

    wr Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    I've used an old basketball in my trough for years and it works very well, up to a certain point and then you still need a trough heater.
     
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  9. aoconnor1

    aoconnor1 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    My deepest condolences on the loss of your husband. What a sad time for you. I pray things will level off and you can get some help with his horses.

    If the trough is next to a fence line, could you possibly run an electrical cord down and put in a floating tank heater? That is what I have had to do several times until we finally buries a water line to my barn so my water wouldn't freeze every winter. I ran the cords down the side of my corrals and fence line so the horses couldn't get tangled in them, then was able to put in a floating heater.
     
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  10. wr

    wr Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    I hate those floating heaters. In extreme cold, they use an awful lot of electricty but they also have a limited life expectancy as well and when they start failing, they have a tendency to start shorting out and water makes a great conductor. I haven't lost any livestock but know others who have but often found my standing waiting for water.

    When they do actually crap out or one of the cords separate, a half day chopping one out isn't easy either and simply plugging back in doesn't work because it only melts the small area surrounding it before the thermostat shuts it but not enough to thaw the trough.

    The submersed mats are better but come with their own problems and I would suggest that anyone in a cold climate invest in a propane heater (which is likely cheaper than one month increase in the power bill) or simply build a hot box and burn wood or coal to keep water from freezing.
     
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  11. aoconnor1

    aoconnor1 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I’ve never had an issue with the floating heaters, but I’m not in a bad winter place either. I use them as needed and am glad for them.
     
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  12. wr

    wr Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    I think they'd be fine under circumstances as mentioned but a week at -40 seems to do them in pretty quick and when they die a trough tends to freeze solid overnight and that's when the real fun begins.
     
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  13. TroyT

    TroyT Well-Known Member

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    Depending on distance you may want to look into a heated hose. We've used them, they work well, you just can not coil them up while they are plugged in or they will short out and fail. There are also flexible heat cables (not tape) that can be over lapped. We used one of those the year we had pigs through the winter and had to keep the nipple from freezing. You could try putting one of those around the hose bib. If you are going to keep the horses around for awhile longer, you may want to consider a horse water-er rather than a stock tank. They can be spendy, but they don't freeze and properly installed it's a good fix long term fix.
     
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  14. TerryR

    TerryR Well-Known Member

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    Never knew this!
    My buddy sent me a link.
    And of course I can't share it here.
    Take a 1 gallon jug, empty.
    Fill full of salt, tighten the lid.
    Place in water trough, water won't freeze per this msg I recvd, in 17 degree temps.
    Gonna have to try this, in a tank they don't use. Interesting!
    https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10204032704456130&id=1779406663
    I still can't get this to post, from Facebook!
    Has anyone else tried this?
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2018 at 10:55 AM
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  15. aoconnor1

    aoconnor1 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thats pretty cool. I will have to try it for sure, but I am hoping it will be NEXT winter when I try it! I prefer no more below freezing nights here!

    The video showed fine for me.
     
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  16. TerryR

    TerryR Well-Known Member

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    Great! Aoconnor1! Glad it worked!
    Same here, temps in the 40's.
    So I can't try this yet.
    I did more googling on this, there's a lot of info using salt in a jug, etc.
    Interesting info!
     
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