Photo from David Lee. David was kind enough to share this photo keeping water open during 0-degree temperatures with wind chills ranging between -10 and -20 near Central City Nebraska.
As winter draws near, it's important to start preparing to keep your livestock hydrated. If you've had to break ice and deal with frozen water for your livestock in the past, you're already aware that this can be a difficult, time-consuming, and/or expensive task. Fortunately, there's a better way.
When the weather starts to reach freezing temperatures, exposed water troughs and tanks start to freeze up pretty quickly. Breaking up ice and hauling water out in the cold to keep your animals hydrated is not a fun task.
Your livestock needs more energy to stay warm in colder temperatures, which means they eat more food. When they eat more, they need more water. If there's not a ready supply of water, your animals will eat snow (if any is on the ground) to try and hydrate.
Unfortunately, snow isn't an adequate source of water for hydration, and can lead to weakness and a variety of health issues due to mineral deficiencies. Not only can a lack of freshwater cause health issues, but it can also lead to lower-quality livestock. If you have beef cattle, you'll have a weaker, smaller stock. If you have dairy cattle, you'll likely notice a decrease in milk output.
How Can I Keep My Livestock's Water from Freezing?
Fortunately, there are several options when it comes to keeping water from freezing. However, the most common options have various drawbacks.
Electric Tank Heaters
Electric tank heaters can keep your tanks and troughs warm, preventing ice from freezing. However, they stop performing in the event of a power outage, which can lead to the water quickly freezing in colder weather. Some will run continuously even when the weather is above freezing, so you'll need to go out to shut it on and off, which can be a hassle. There are options for heaters that have an automatic shut off when the weather warms, but they can get pricey, especially when you need to warm multiple tanks.
Heated Automatic Watering Systems
Automatic watering tanks allow your animals to replenish their water as they drink. However, most automatic watering systems need a lot of animals to frequently drink from them to keep water flowing before it can freeze over. There are options to add heating components and pumps to keep water flowing, but they can be expensive and prone to malfunction. Heating or pump options also require power, rendering them useless if the electricity goes out.
While both options can work, they often require electricity and upkeep for them to function properly. Fortunately, there is a better way.
So, What Is the Best Way to Keep Livestock Water from Freezing?
As outlined above, the most common methods people currently use to keep water from freezing have their drawbacks. Fortunately, there's now a better choice that only takes a few minutes to set up.
Install a Freeze Miser on Your Water Trough Float Valves
Installing a freeze miser on each flow valve will protect the hose and the faucet from freezing, allowing water to drip continuously when necessary.
The Freeze Miser has been engineered to release only a minimal amount of water to prevent freezing. With its patented design, the Freeze Miser senses the internal water temperature and allows no water to drip until the water temperature drops below 37°F/3°C. This means better freeze protection using the least water, even in the most extreme freezing conditions.
You can also install a Y-Valve, which will allow you to use the faucet so you never have to take the hose off or turn the hydrant off—you can leave it on throughout the course of the winter (and even summer if you choose).
Plus, the Freeze Miser is extremely affordable. The cost of the Freeze Miser is only $30.00, with bulk discounts available if you need to protect several troughs (or if you'd also like to protect your hoses and water lines throughout your property.)