Winter livestock water trough opinions needed

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by cashcrop, May 30, 2004.

  1. cashcrop

    cashcrop Well-Known Member

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    I just bought a 6' livestock water trough. I decided I would put it between what will be the pig yard and the cow/goat yard for time and economic reasons. I figure I could screw in either a nipple water spigot or water bowl with a paddle in the drain plug. I just wonder which would be less likely to get froze up in Northern Wisconsin? Any opinions?

    Also, since my livestock yard area is so far from the house I am going to use a gas run livestock water heater(they cost around $300). Have any of you used one or know of someone who has used on? Just how effective are they? I know of one person that uses one and he says it seems to work fine but, he is watering cows not pigs.

    Thanks!
    Katie
     
  2. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    for that kind of money did you consider an insulated automatic waterer? some claim that they will remain unfrozen in the coldest weather, but i've heard they will freeze in extreme temps.

    id you use a tank, bubbling propane through it might be cheaper than the heater.


    jena
     

  3. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    You could box the tank in and insulate it with sawdust all around and over most of the top. but keeping an add on pig drinker thawed could be a hassle.
    Jena's recomendation is the best if you want to spend that much money. And so much more pleasant for you. Having the fountain in a protected building of some sort helps with the freeze ups. You will need an underground water line to the fountain. There are several brands and types of fountains. Some have electric heaters in them. Some are said to reguire no heat source other the the water or heat from the ground.
     
  4. mtfarmchick

    mtfarmchick Well-Known Member

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    We have an automatic waterer(with heat tape around the pipes) and we are in Northeastern(30 miles from Canada) Montana. It will sometimes freeze over, but we just break up the ice and scoop it out. Or sometimes the float will freeze shut. All I do then is stick my hand inside it and jiggle the float a little and it's fine. This waterer is pretty old, probably at least 20 years, and knock on wood, we've never had a problem with it other than what I've already mentioned. Considering that we can have a week of near 20 below, I don't even consider that a problem.
     
  5. cashcrop

    cashcrop Well-Known Member

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    I am on rented property. I can't justify installing something like that. Maybe I'll have to spend money for a soiux pig waterer after all come fall. I didn't like it because I would have to fill it more often I thought and I wasn't sure how well a poly tank would survive a propane stock tank heater.

    .....on the other hand people raised hogs 100yrs ago without all our modern conveniences AND we still have hogs today so, they(hogs) must not have thirsted to death!There must be a way! I'll have to think on this a while I think putting sawdust(or cow manure due to the heat it will produce while it breaks down) around the outside of the tank isn't a bad idea though! I think a nipple waterer might be easier to break free from being frozen shut....I think if I were to attach a bowl waterer I might have to elevate the stock tank a little.
     
  6. cashcrop

    cashcrop Well-Known Member

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    Whenever I get my own farm....Ritchie waterers will be put in.
     
  7. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We watered hogs without anything but a hog trough. We poured water in it about three times a day, but only as much as the would drink before it froze.
    We got the water out of a stock tank like yours only bigger. We had our tank sitting up on concrete walls along both sides. The tank was almost a foot above the ground. We used old boards or fence posts to build a fire under it each morning. To make the fire draw good we stuck an old stove pipe in the east end and sealed the opening with dirt. A dash of coal oil on that wood made for an instant fire. By noon steam would be rising from the water. We laid a piece of sheet metal on the walls under the tank to prevent burning the bottom out of the tank. We drug the ashes out with a hoe when nessesary. The water would still be warm in the evening. WE never put anything around the tank for insulation but I would reccomend it.
    If you had a tank with a built in hog drinker it would be easier to keep from freezing. Got one I'm not using.
     
  8. mikell

    mikell Well-Known Member

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    Even it's not my property I would have to with a new automatic waterer from TSC. They only use 100 watts and can't be beat. a trough will use 1500 watts + Do the math.

    mikell
     
  9. Blu3duk

    Blu3duk Well-Known Member

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    Cow manure will freeze even while it is breaking down, so stuffing a void with it in small quantity might not be something you wanna do. sawdust may be better as long as you can keep it from becoming wet..... I have a sawmill, and have pulled ice out of my sawdust pile in July, after the snow melted in April.

    Foam insulation may be your best option [spray foam will work as long as it has room for expansion for a while but has been known to pop loose boards if to much is used and no where to expand] as it wil stick to the trough and provide a leak tight seal, I however do not know personally if it is poisionous to any animal that might chew on it if given a chance.

    I have painted metal troughs Black on one side to expose in the winter months to the south to gain some solar advantage which did help keep the ice to a minimum on that side in the coldest of north Idaho weather [not as cold as some other places geneally only gets to -15 or so for a few days]. Curently for our 2 horses i use a black plastic tub that holds about 25 gallons and fill it once a day, this past winter the ice did freeze solid in it, but turning it upside down, and pouring some hot water on it allowed the ice to drop out, ok that may not be an option for hogs watering.....

    I know folks who cut in half old hot water heaters for both waters and feeders, advantage for wter is if it freezes dumping it out is even easier than my plastic barrel/tub.

    Labor saving devices are nice, but with old Murphy looking over every livestock owners shoulder, a person should never rely on modern convience without having backup plan, frost free things are usually only frost resistant, and can feeze if given a chance.

    just my opinion and some thoughts

    William
     
  10. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    In my opinion you can't justify what you have! :)

    NO on the manure idea. Sawdust, foam, or sheets of foam yes. Probably not as good as a boughten one, or will cost you more that a good insulated one from the start would have, but you need something. But not manure.

    You need underground pipe, & a propane heater, & a propane tank, and endless propane. Lots of $$$$. And mantenence. And when the flame goes out or the gas runs out, a whole lot of work to deal with the solid chunk. ;)

    A Cobert (sp) underground frost resistant waterer would have cost the same as what you spent, needs no additional supplies, and only needs a hole augered in the ground to below frost. Would have been better, and less work, less money. They are a big plastic tube 6-8 feet deep, and the 55 degree soil down there curculates warm air up to the bowl of water, keeping it from freezing. Under the coldest & high wind chill conditions it can skim over, but requires little but a check once a day. You can mount it low enough & fence so both can drink - a little awkward but doable.

    Otherwise if you insist one one you can unbolt & move easily, an insulated tank is a _must_, you are going to be heating the whole world this winter. A nipple will freeze solid, a flap will freeze solid.

    You could have gotten an insulated dual tank - openning on top & opening on side for the 2 types of critters, and built for the cold.

    Think you are in for a steep learning curve if you hit a winter like I did last year, minus 28F several nights in a row, a rather cold Jan & Feb here in southern Minnesota. Normally we get in the 20's durning the day, around 0 for a low on a 'typical' cold day.

    Good luck, I hope it works for you, but it would all go back to the store if it were me & I'd start over.

    In the old days we lived on the farm all winter, my farm house had a wood furnace for heat as the only source of heat through 1971, someone was at the house every 8 hours to feed the furnace. The livestock were checked at least 2 times, maybe 4-5 times, a day & offered water from a frost free hydrant. I suspect most of us (well, maybe several _here_, but in the general population...) no longer want to live that way, so you need to provide frost-free water & check it once a day.

    --->Paul
     
  11. cashcrop

    cashcrop Well-Known Member

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    Rambler,

    I haven't spent the money for the propane heater or a 100lb propane tank. I only bought the galvanized water tank. The reason I posted about this now is due to the fact that people locally are not the most advanced. I know of no one who uses/owns automatic waterers. Stretching a series of electrical cords 100 yds to run an electric tank heater doesn't seem sensible though! I have never heard of Cobert equipment and I know the lovely landlord would not let me run a pipe out to the waterer but, am I grasping at straws when I think of getting a smaller water tank to put in their 3 sided shed with the hogs and another for the steers to do like wise?

    I have 5 months to figure out alternatives.
     
  12. pointer_hunter

    pointer_hunter Well-Known Member

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    How much electricity does a heater pull? Would it be feasible to set up a small solar panel and batter to run it? It would save on the cord, but I’m not sure if it would work or if it would be cost efficient.
     
  13. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Here is the web site of the freeze-proof no-energy waterer. There are other such. Before I forget! :)

    http://www.cobett.com/

    Perhaps I spoke out of turn.

    Your system would work somewhat if it is indoors. But at first read, it sounds like it is outdoors? You would need shelter for the hogs at least, so is an indoor (out of the wind, body-heat from the livestock) location available? If you can keep the temp above 15 degrees much of the time, and above 25 most all of the time _and_ out of the wind, it takes a while to freeze, and the livestock have time to use up the water you supply.

    There are some insulated/ solar / homemade type of deals that keep the water temp up, but they are quite a work of art, and rely upon water feeding into them as the livestock drink to keep the water temp up. Many start as an old construction tire, a plastic cover, poured cement in the bottom, and a water feed up the middle.

    Additionally, I was assuming the water feed was already at or near this location, below the frost line in the ground. Now it sounds like there is no underground water supply. Are you bringing water with 5gal pails, & how many head of livestock are you watering? I guess I would do better if I understood the scope of the project a little better. You mention it is so far from the house, so I was figuring it was too far to carry water - cattle drink a _lot_, so now I'm left puzzled. :) You could do this the old fashioned way, just offer them water 2 times a day, _every_ day, as much as they drink & dump the excess before it melts. They do not need open water in front of them at _all_ times, esp if they have some snow to 'graze' on. But they do need water, you need to satisfy them 2 times a day, preferably shortly after they eat.

    How do you currently water the livestock?

    I'm guessing northern Wisconsin would have an equal climate to my southern minnesota, tho lake effects or other can cause things to be a lot different than I am thinking...

    Sorry if I went off course on you, the project appeared differently to me. I'm not sure what you are starting with now, or how big a job it is.

    I currently water 20-40 head of cattle without any heat. I run a normal float on a metal tank, and as long as they are drinking the water flows because it is bringing it's own heat or as long as the sun hits it, but I need to shut it off and get the water out when they stop as the pipe freezes. I have a typical burried line & frost-free hydrant. It's not a fun system - esp at -15 degrees. However, for next year - see the above web site. ;)

    --->Paul
     
  14. Blu3duk

    Blu3duk Well-Known Member

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    Batteries require they dont freeze, Trojan L-16 6 volt deep ccle batteries at my cost are $160.00 each, to keep the computer towers running we have 6 batteries in series, which due to an extremely hard cold snap this past winter even in our shelter froze and required replacement.

    We have 3 120 watt solar panels on the tower, which cost $500.00 each, an airex wind genorator, and a gas generator for when the sun dont shine, and the wind wont blow....$450.00 plus 5 gallons of fuel for 4-6 hours and an battery charger.... not exactly someting that is cost effective for a watering situation or for lighting in my chicken house... we sit just above the 45 parelell in central idaho.... not to much dissimilar than Wisconsin i believe. We have a heater installed in the enclosure now that runs when the genset is operational, which is 3 days per week in the winter. The computer draws only about 500 watts which is considerably less than what a water heater would draw.

    An electrical line running a 100 yards would have a considerable draw on it, and would need to be rather big, perhaps 6 gauge although a person might get by with 8. Either way it is not cheap, but if you do not run over it or plow through it it could be layed on top the ground and reeled up next spring and unreeled for the next winter season... requires a big spool and alot of muscle as well.
     
  15. pointer_hunter

    pointer_hunter Well-Known Member

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    So that's a "NO" on the solar panel idea. :eek:

    And here I thought I had the plan to save the world! :no:
     
  16. cashcrop

    cashcrop Well-Known Member

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    I'm a stubborn cuss!! I found the waterers were cobett and I found this link(http://www.northfortynews.com/Archive/A200211sam.htm). Now I know what a propane bubbler was! I had no idea! Never heard of one before!

    As for #of livestock 13 pigs in a 3 sided building and 5 - 6 head of stockers in another 3 sided building. And yes toting 5gal buckets of water or making a rig for my three point to carry 4 - 8 5gal water jugs.
     
  17. cashcrop

    cashcrop Well-Known Member

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    I have searched all over the internet for a propane bubbler!! :waa: How do I make one of those animals? It claims they are not commercially available on a canadian site.
     
  18. Irish Pixie

    Irish Pixie Limp Bisket LOL

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  19. boxwoods

    boxwoods Well-Known Member

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    Just and idea;

    A 300 - 1000 gal tank underground connected by pipe to stock tank and a overflow going back to underground tank. use of a jet pump would make continued water turnover ( or running water)

    A float valve would maintain water in underground tank

    A pump would be cheaper to run than a heater.

    you would run it only on below freezing days

    I get water from a spring which runs through a 300 gal poly stock tank and it never freezes

    just a thought
     
  20. cashcrop

    cashcrop Well-Known Member

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    What lehman's offers wouldn't work up here....we had one day with a windchill of -45. :(

    I found some sort of description late last night that seemed to dangerous to me. The guy bought some lp gas hose and 3 electric aereator units and spliced them together. He noted be careful when doing this so they don't leak.

    I'm torn between making my portable sheds bigger to accomidate stock tanks and the water bubbler. I'm afraid putting the tank inside the pig shed might be create more of a problem than a blessing!