Water lines (keep m from freezin')

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by MaryF, Oct 8, 2005.

  1. MaryF

    MaryF Well-Known Member

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    Going to be installing watering bowls in the stalls in the next few weeks. We want to be able to use them year round and wanted to get some alternate ideas on how to keep the lines from freezing other than running heat tape along the entire system.

    Have you herd of Heat Trace? Seems to be some new form of heat tape but i have not found anyone locally that sells it and have no idea as to it's cost.

    I have also herd that nothing is necessary because the cows give off enough heat to keep the inside of the barn from freezing. Is this true?

    We were planning on using PEX tubing. It wont burst if it does freeze.

    Tx,
    MaryF
     
  2. DaleK

    DaleK Well-Known Member

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    Sometimes cows will keep the barn warm enough and sometimes not. It depends on how well insulated the barn is, how many cows are in it, and how cold it gets.

    As for PEX, the pipe is the least expensive part. If you use a pipe that won't burst when it freezes, that just means the pressure is transferred more to the water bowls, which are the expensive part, and WILL burst..

    If you need to do something, try to see if you can set up a system to keep the water moving through the lines with a small pump and a reservoir. The heat tape can work but likes to cause fires once in a while too.
     

  3. willow_girl

    willow_girl Very Dairy

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    My husband and I were just discussing this over dinner. If anyone knows of a way to keep water lines or hoses from freezing, we'd sure like to hear it! :)
     
  4. Yvonne's hubby

    Yvonne's hubby Murphy was an optimist ;) Staff Member

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    If you are figuring on a long term arrangement it may pay you to run a loop system. you run the water in a continuous loop through the system and back to the beginning using a circulator pump, not too expensive and the moving water wont freeze unless the internal temp of the barn gets down around zero. Moving water requires much lower temps to freeze, this wont help the bowls unless used in conjunction with a small water heater, which will keep your lines safe and warm with no danger of freezing at all and furnish the critters with warm water as well.
     
  5. JeffNY

    JeffNY Seeking Type

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    That circulator pump I should look into myself. I will have 20 animals in the barn, there is hay aloft, and plan on closing off some places that leak a lot of air (not make it stuffy, just areas the cold comes pouring in). That barn of ours us about 5-10 degrees warmer than outside WITHOUT cows. So with 20 bodys, hopefully it stays warm enough. But that circulator pump sounds interesting.


    Jeff
     
  6. pygmywombat

    pygmywombat Well-Known Member

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    Our water lines are buried 4 feet down and our barn faucet drains itself so it can't freeze. I have a wonderful 16 gallon heated bucket that just plugs into a regular socket and keeps the water at 50-60 degrees. I got it last winter and it was wonderful not having to beat ice out of the cow's regular water bucket every day.
     
  7. evermoor

    evermoor Well-Known Member

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    General experience is that the cows drink enuf and give off enuf heat to keep them working. However you may not have enoough cows to keep it working if I remember how big the barn was frrom earlier pix. The circulating pump sounds like a good idea. I Would not use heat tape due to fire hazard and electrity failure. At one farm we ran a shop heater over nite on the cold side off the barn. Usually only a couple of spots on the end would ffreeze and it generally worked itself free as the girls got up and drinking. There was a large dairy that only used garden houses and big round stock tanks. A couple huundred foot of hose was strung up over the rafters in the freestall barn and in turn emptied into the tanks. A couple times a day you would speed up or slow the water down with the common splitter. As long as a trickle came through the tanks and hoses would not freeze. Maybe you could hook up some type of drain to an outside tank for the other cattle. Oh the joys of split water lines, half flooded barns and -29 degree weather come to mind.
     
  8. MaryF

    MaryF Well-Known Member

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    The barn is a 30x40 steel quanset "S" type. In the barn are 4 box stalls one is almost 2x the size of the rest. We have 2 cows, 2 heifers, and 2 heifer calfs in the barn.

    Good point about the blowing the valve on the bowl if i use PEX. I don't like PVC because it becomes so brittal after time. Copper is too expensive. What would you use?

    The bowls I have ordered are http://www.partsdeptonline.com/cgi-...roduct=53&cart_id=3437001.7915&exact_match=on

    Item 67812 Enameled Bowl With SS Paddle

    (hope the link works)

    Using heat tape does pose a risk and adds to my electric bill. That is way I am looking for an alternative. I like the circulator pump and would be somewhat easy to impliment. This still leaves the bowl valve and the line from the circulating line to the bowl vunariable to freezing. I would still need something to keep this warm. I have seen people put a 100W bulb under the valve but this seems in-efficent and the cow would have to deal with the light all the time.
     
  9. MaryF

    MaryF Well-Known Member

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  10. JeffNY

    JeffNY Seeking Type

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    I would also think it would be a fire hazard, with hay and the like. I have galv. steel in the barn. The water pipe doubles as a neck rail, so it is dual purpose. Metal can break, however if temperatures do pose a risk, and I notice some freezing. I can always drain the pipes, shut the water off, and at this point they can be watered outside (not cows yet). I wonder if a circulator pump can be setup to circulate the line coming from the well, around through the water lines, and back. One problem though, would an inspector like that idea?


    Jeff
     
  11. MaryF

    MaryF Well-Known Member

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    I would say to connect your supply line for the bowls in a complet loop have the water supply connetcted to it through a backflow preventor. The backflow preventor sould take care of the inspector.

    As for the well, I would think you would run the risk of contaminating the well. Plus the well pump is $$$ more expensive to replace than a $$ circuiling $$ pump.
     
  12. JeffNY

    JeffNY Seeking Type

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    Problem is, at the moment I am SOL, as the only way for me to do a loop is to run more line back to where I have the water coming in. However the water that is in the line from the well would still be sitting, not moving unless they drink. One other thing too, I will have a water bowl per 2 animals to start off, and with them drinking, and moving that water, it might not freeze. 1.5" line is what I have. I had to build for the future, as that line will supply both sides, and when 30 are drinking, 3/4" wont supply the cow at the end with water, etc..


    Jeff
     
  13. Allan Mistler

    Allan Mistler Just a simple man

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    These ideas sound interesting... I'm getting prepared to install a solar powered (12volt) pump down in the well inside my barn. I'm planning to have the pump down about four feet below the surface so it won't freeze, and only pump water up into the 25 gal trough when a float switch calls for it. When the pump turns off it should backdrain and prevent freezing. Only time will tell of course and I'm open to suggestions since I'd rather get it right the first time. Last two years I've been using a pitcher pump but must pour hot water into it first to defrost it. Also have two more cows this year and the recovery level of the well (shallow) is only about 8 gallons per hour so I'm going to try to just keep the trough topped off every time they drink from it. Anyway, it's a small pony pump with an impeller rather than the diaphragm pump I use out in the pasture during summer months. I guess diaphragm pumps (by their very nature) won't backdrain so I figured I'd start with a cheap little intermittent duty marine pump. I'll let everyone know how it turns out later on after the temps drop into the single digits and the daylight hours decrease to recharge my batteries.
     
  14. DaleK

    DaleK Well-Known Member

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    A lot of water bowls are set up so you can put the pipe into the top or bottom of the bowl, so you can circulate the water by having it come in one side and out the other then only the valve is unprotected. Then you have to look into which valves are available to you, some freeze a lot easier than others.
     
  15. JeffNY

    JeffNY Seeking Type

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    The water bowls I have, have that option you mentioned Dalek. So what do you do? Run a plastic line along the floor, T each spot off, and run the water back to the line, and keep it moving that way?

    I know how cold settles, while heat rises.



    Jeff
     
  16. MaryF

    MaryF Well-Known Member

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    You are saying that most bowls have the option to connect the water from the back or the bottom. We can use this option to our advantage to flow water in one port and out the other. Sort of like this:

    [​IMG]

    This the idea?

    Now the question is how do we deal with keeping the valve from freezing?
     
  17. ace admirer

    ace admirer Well-Known Member Supporter

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    i know the flat type of electrical heat tape is not approved for anything but metal pipe, and never let the tape overlay itself.

    i heat traced some plastic pipe for a waterheater i placed in the attic of a house i owned.. my wife and i came back one night to a flooded ket. when i went up into the attic, i found that the heat tape had caught fire, burning into a nearby rafter.. God looks out for fools . the heat melted the plastic water pipe and the spray of water put the fire out.

    the higher quality stuff (others posted)may be ok.
     
  18. MaryF

    MaryF Well-Known Member

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  19. travlnusa

    travlnusa Well-Known Member

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    There are two kinds of barns, warm and cold. A warm barn tries to keep winter out and heat in. The biggest problem with a cold barn is moisture leading to health problems.

    A cold barn is just that. Keep out the breeze, but let the air in for a dry air setting. This is what I do. MUCH better for animals. This is why you see modern barns with the tarp walls that are lowered for warm days and up for cold days.

    To keep water open, I water out of tanks with heaters in them. To fill the tank, I have a build a wooden box around my water supply. This box is about 4 feet wide, 4 feet tall, and about 3 feet deep. The top is hinged. The walls and top are insulated. I keep the hose attached to the water supply and when I haved filled everything, the hose gets wrapped up back in the box next to the water supply.

    I heat this box with two 100 watt light bulbs. It gets 10-30 below zero where I live, and it works great.
     
  20. Yvonne's hubby

    Yvonne's hubby Murphy was an optimist ;) Staff Member

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    Ok, I see a problem, or at least think I do. The way it looks in the diagram is that you are running water from one bowl, through it, and catching an overflow or something to the next bowl. If thats the case your water will be able to come backwards into the last bowl and over flow it. I would think you would need to set each bowl separate, feeding it off the main loop. As to the valve freezing, is there one on each bowl? if so you should be able to insulate the base under it, with an enclosed space well insulated the water itself will keep the bowl and valves frost free. If that is not the case I will have to look at the system you are using a bit closer.