Winter watering challenges

Have you every thought about watering animals in sub zero temperatures? Most people don’t. Unless, of course you live where winter is 5 months out of the year. Here’s how we do it.

Floating water heater

We are below freezing everyday now so summer water troughs freeze solid. You can get floating and submersible water heaters and we do use one. I think that is the usual solution for most farm people here. We took it a step further and hubby built an insulated water trough out of a plastic storage bin. Last winter, with just one calf drinking from it, we kept it full by carrying 2 five gallon pails of water every few days. This winter, that one calf is a yearling and we have a milk cow. Milk cows drink a lot of water! The trough is emptied daily by these two. How to keep the trough full? (not hauling 2 five gallon pails 3 times a day!) Hubby built a sled for it so we can slide it to the barn, fill it up and slide it back. This we do everyday. A lot of work but a solution until we come up with something better.

Insulated water trough on a sled

We had a really cold night already this week. It dipped to -30C (-22F). Inside the barn kept quite warm but during the day while Happy was outside, it cooled down to the point that there was ice on the water bowls and the lines were frozen. Now, the decision is made, do we drain the waterlines and haul buckets of water to the cows? Or do we install a heater and keep the barn warm? Already filling the outside water trough daily, you can guess which option we chose.

Water bowl in the far corner

I already have a heater in the chicken part of the barn to keep the waterline from freezing. We opened the door between the two areas to help keep them both warm. Not too warm, just warm enough. We blocked the doorway so the chickens and ducks stay where they belong but air can flow.

How do you water your animals when it’s freezing out?

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday blog hop hosted by GNOWFGLINS, Sustainable Eats, Culinary Bliss, and A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa.

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5 responses

  1. Hi Marg, i wouldn’t know what it’s like, but I’m sure my sister can relate. She has horses. I’ll have to ask her what she does..hehe crazy the things we don’t think about until someone mentions it. That’s a lot of work.

  2. What is your chicken water line? Because wow am I getting tired of schlepping water out to replace frozen water! Sadly, it’s the rabbitry that is taking the most time. You didn’t mention how you water the chickens and ducks though. And I’m curious how you keep them them together without the ducks mucking up the chicken water like mine do.

    • Schlepping water makes for a very long winter, doesn’t it! There’s a water tap in the chickens. A long time ago we trenched a waterline from the house to the barn. The ducks DO muck up the water. They’re very compulsive about that aren’t they? It’s an automatic waterer and I’ve started turning the tap off at night because I think they were playing in it all night! The wet floor is limited to the corner the waterer is in.

      I didn’t mention the goats either. I have to thaw their bucket and take them fresh water everyday. When it’s really cold, the ice cracks the bucket. I blew through so many last year. They don’t make a bucket that won’t crack. Not that I’ve found, anyway. I can’t use a heater with them because they’d play with it and wreck it. Their living quarters are not in the main barn.

  3. Pingback: Brrr! | Prairie Sunrise Homestead

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