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Off grid, how to keep livestock water from freezing?

 
Posts: 43
Location: Netherlands
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I've placed 4 of these nipple waterers in the bottom of a 5 gallon bucket. There's 3 chickens in the tractor/dome right now, but I might expand in the future. Where ice normally gathers on top of the bucket, these are placed on the bottom so that any ice that forms on the bottom floats away from the drinking area because of density reasons. Should we get a really hard frost of -20C or so, I don't know how well this system would hold up.... I expect the constant pecking of the birds to keep the ice off, but can't say for sure (it usually gets colder at night, when the chooks are sleeping). It has done its job between 0 and -5 fine.
 
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It was a very cold winter in Ontario , Canada in 2014 / 2015. Our bank barn with cattle and pigs in it is some what drafty and does not hold heat. The one water bowl froze and the barn had only one working water source, it was insulated and had an electric pipe warmer. Running garden hoses filling gallagher style 150 gallon tubs gets old, especially when it ices up a little more every day. What I was using by the end of the year was old freezers and fridges that were water tight. I have them sitting on there back and they hold quite a bit of water and are cheap to find. The real benefit I found was that because they are insulated on 3 sides ( door removed) , ice only forms on top of the water and it is relatively easy to remove.
 
Posts: 245
Location: Northern New Mexico, Latitude:35 degrees N, Elevation:6000'
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bee books forest garden fungi greening the desert solar
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I was looking into this, this morning. Here's what I've come across so far. http://www.ranchtanks.com/ and a diy version. http://www.motherearthnews.com/diy/tools/solar-stock-tank-zmaz10onzraw.aspx?PageId=1 Here's better detail of the diy version. http://www.builditsolar.com/Projects/WaterHeating/SolarHorseTank/SolarHorseTank.htm
Passive solar designs. They look simple enough. Lets see if I can embed a picture of the suntank from ranchtanks....yup. This is their 25 gallon version.
 
Posts: 33
Location: Estonia
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how much propane does a heated insulated water tank usually consume?
 
Posts: 31
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1. You may not have to water. We live and farm in michigan 5b, and we hardly use any heaters.

Cows and sheep do just fine on snow (and I've found studies to back this up) only caveat is that it its a learned behavior, passed on from older animals. Ours do just fine.
Note that when we barn any animals or if there is no snow but its below freezing (rare around here) they need unfrozen water

The pigs live in the woods, its my opinion they break open the ponds/swamps at the edges where the ice is thin all year and drink from there. I will not and do not haul water for 70 pigs 1/2 a mile every day.

The poultry survive without water, but I think they get dehydrated, attrition rates are higher and they are more prone to egg destruction

2. Which leads to the very permaculture solution: Compost!
my chickens free range round the clock as they please from a coop (which is on the back of a 3 sided cow shed in the middle of the pasture) They pick through fresh patties all year as they please, and the presence of cows all night has deterred any ground based predators for the winter (summers are different)

Any manure/bedding (probably 80% of their crap in the cold times) I scrape into a pile and fluff. You can store water in the pile in pail or put a waterer right in the pile.
This means (a) liquid water (b) extra heat in my strawbale coop (c) less material handling at cleanout time and a ready product and (d) active compost is active food source at certain stages for chickens.
For extra credit, put a roost over the compost pile to win the poultry winter permaculture jackpot!
 
pollinator
Posts: 549
Location: Michigan
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A bucket wrapped in pex inside a larger bucket and the space filled with greatstuff is pretty cheap. Getting warm antifreeze solution to it is another issue depending on what you have. Still the approach allows heat to be added as needed and will not tax a power bill or offgrid system too much. A 3 watt circulator, control, a heat exchanger and heat source is the other end. It sounds complicated, but is automatic and could be a snap disc switch limit and as simple an exchanger as you can access the heat source with, hydronic base board heater elements in the ceiling inside heated space, heat exchange with a water heater, tubing coil in or against a wood fired heater...
 
Joshua Parke
Posts: 245
Location: Northern New Mexico, Latitude:35 degrees N, Elevation:6000'
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bee books forest garden fungi greening the desert solar
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Saw this thread while perusing around the forums....so here's my simple update.

The Suntank has been working pretty good. 25gallon. I still fill it by hand so I know that keeping it full at all times with the auto water hookup would allow it to function even better. Some mornings it's been slightly frozen around the water float, but a simple push on the float and it breaks free. Simple enough that my horse can do it...so I don't think I would say it has frozen. The coldest nights thus far this winter have been in the upper teens.

 
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Ping pong balls in a rubber waterer sitting on an old tire in the sun worked for a friend of mine in Newfoundland.
 
Posts: 57
Location: Zone 6b, Ontario, Canada
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Apoologies if this post is covering old ground, i did not read most of the replies.

Animals mostly know how to keep water open. Even my bunnies would keep a small  hole in the ice in their waterer to get at the water. Replace it twice a day and they had access 24/7 (or close enough) even in -20 C. For the big tubs that you will not be able to clear every watering it should take weeks or more forit to completly freeze withball the water going through it. Then we just threw in a waterer deicer (all cattle stores carry them) to melt it. You could keep it in 24/7 but that just wastes power.

As for chickens. Yes they poop in waterers. But in a small one is not working for yiu, and you do not want to shell out for a insulated powered one, i woukd go for a bigger open one. Ours just have access to the snow and ice and the cattle water tubes.
 
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