Eliminate Frozen Water Buckets in the Winter
January winds and cold crunchy snow abound in our Ohio region this time of the year! Cold weather climates can be challenging for horse owners when it comes to keeping unfrozen water sources for horses. Do you chip ice twice or three times a day? Are you tired of breaking buckets of frozen water? Here are some helpful ideas and tips to help you eliminate the dreaded 'frozen water bucket'!
Tip 1: Insulated Water Buckets
If your barn does not have electricity - Insulated buckets maybe the choice for you. Although they are not entirely 'ice-proof' they will prove to be a much better choice over regular buckets. Insulated buckets come with a wall mount that helps to keep ice at bay. The "floater" stays in the bucket with the water and allows horses to drink. Our best suggestion is to keep water below the floater, otherwise you may get a bit of ice on top of your bucket. Additionally, by changing your water twice a day, you will avoid freezing water. This is a much better solution over standard buckets, especially this surprisingly cold and showy winter!
- Keep buckets in an area where direct wind is minimal.
- Keep water below the floater
- Change water twice a day to avoid thin sheets of ice
Tip 2: Heated Water Buckets
UL Approved, and made to last in cold winter months, heated water buckets can be the answer to eliminating ice in your buckets! If you have a power source in your barn, you will love these buckets. With temperature censored construction, heated water buckets turn on at 42 degrees and off at 52 degrees. The heat will keep water from freezing allowing horses to drink freely. The 6' cord is shielded with a coiled wire. (We suggest running the cord out of the stall to the outside where it can be plugged in to a GFI outlet). With 5 gallon flat backed buckets consider purchasing bucket holders that mount onto the stall wall ( this helps to keep horses from 'playing' and knocking buckets off of the wall). Heated water buckets will be one of the nicest products that you get for your horses. They foster better health by providing water that your horses will easily be able to drink in the winter!
- Run your cords to the outside of your stall
- Use in conjunction with a bucket holder
- If unit is unplugged, water will freeze, keep plugged in
- Consider using 16 gallon heated buckets for pastures and more than one horse. Be sure to stabilize and shelter bucket if in the elements
- Great for large and small animals!
Tip 3: Heated Automatic Waters
"One of the most useful gifts you will ever give your horse and yourself!" Heated Automatic waterers take all of the work out of providing your horse with an endless water supply. (However, if you like to actually see what your horse consumes, your best choice for watering in the winter will be an insulated bucket or heated bucket). Mounted to the stall wall, or made for pastures, waters are easy to use and keep clean. Most have a removable drain plug or a removable bowl that can easily be cleaned.
The most important part of these systems is that you follow manufactures instructions during installation to avoid freezing problems. It is also best to contact your local extension agency to find out what the frost depths are in your area to avoid any freezing issues. Once properly installed, your horses will have an endless water supply. Bowls need to be cleaned as needed, and if the unit has removable parts, dust out any debris or hay that could come in contact with the inside of the bowl area.
- Be sure to follow manufactures instructions
- Periodically check to be sure waterers are working properly and refilling
- In barns, consider putting a 'cut off switch' on the water line for each individual stall.
- If one waterer needs to be turned off, you other stalls will still have a water source!
The most important things that you can give your horses in the winter is shelter from the cold winds and elements. Ample hay, grain and water! With an investment that will fit into any horse owners budget, you can provide unfrozen water for your horses and make the winter time chores easier for yourself by using an alternative to regular buckets! You will be glad when the cold winds of winter blow and the snow flies! Your horses will be healthier too! *If you have any questions on how to help make winter chores easier, please email me. I will be happy to give you suggestions on how to keep chores in check!
Warm January Wishes!
Debbie has over 45 years experience with horses and equine-related businesses. She has owned, trained, boarded horses and run stables at various times in her career. She is a certified fence installer, has given balanced riding lessons, and has shown horses in Western, Western Pleasure, Trail, English, Hunter/Jumper, Fox Hunting, Hunter Trials, Dressage and driving classes. Debbie has been involved in foaling, and just about every aspect of horse ownership possible, and she welcomes your questions and comments. If you are interested in using any articles by Debbie, please send her an email.