Keeping the Water Trough Warm

hqueen13

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So... the farm is going to have to pay the electric bill for the first time. This BITES. But the park is cutting their budget and this is a handy way for them to do it (yeah, make the non-profit pay!)

So we're looking at all sorts of ways to try to cut costs and conserve energy. In winter the water troughs are a big energy burn due to the tank heaters. We can't afford a solar trough heater, too pricey, so I am looking for alternatives.

I did find the plans for a solar heated tank on builditsolar.com which is awesome, but the barn manager probably isn't going to go for that... I'll have to save that for when we have our own place!

But beyond that, does anybody know of any ways to wrap a trough to help keep the tank heater from working so hard? Of course, it has to be wrapped in such a way that curious horses won't tear it up...
 

Beekissed

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Bubble wrap and chicken wire, then paint the whole configuration black. Then top the tank with a painted- black top of some kind(piece of an old door, etc.) and leave only the two ends for drinking. Then just turn on the heaters on gray days and during the night, and let the sun keep them from freezing on other days.

That's all I got.... :p
 

pinkfox

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on that same idea the solar pool covers could probably be fixed up in such a way too! and i knwo they work quite well. but generally go with black black black to absorb as much heat as possible.
if its set up off the ground PACK underneath it as tightly as possible blocking it off with cinderblocks...but if air can get under it itll freeze faster, by preventing under the trogh air flow itll help and the straw and cinderblock will help maintain some thermal mass.

i had a friend who put her manure pile under the water trough for the winter (again blocked off of course) the heat from the manure helped add just enough heat to keep it from freezing through, same method as making hot beds in a greenhouse, you shovel in and turn it regularly just like you would with a compost pile to keep it "cooking"

ive also heard of people putting sgar or mollasses in the water, i dont know how much or the ratios but aparently it works
 

Denim Deb

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If you have a curious horse, put something black in the trough, like an old tire, or a ball. The black will help trap the heat. Then, the horse will hopefully play w/the ball and keep the water from freezing.

LF bought her own waterer for her field, and this is the type she has. http://horsedrinker.com/ It requires no electricity, and doesn't freeze in the winter. I've already decided that if I ever get my own farm, this is the type I'm getting.
 

desertcat

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I'll second putting the tank on top of a manure pile. We did this for several years and it worked well. The secret (and the hard part) is to dig a trough size hole about 2-3 ft deep, fill it 1/2 full with manure, put the trough on top and then add dirt up about halfway up the tank sides. The ones we did this way didn't freeze until we got down to around 0. Without the extra dirt, we were good into the low teens. The one drawback, is that is impossible to really clean the tanks until spring when you unearth the whole thing!
 

donrae

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We just send the boys out with a 2x4 to break the ice. No electricity required, all boy powered.
 

hqueen13

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donrae said:
We just send the boys out with a 2x4 to break the ice. No electricity required, all boy powered.
If only we had boy powered labor to accomplish that... but that comes with a whole 'nother list of chores! :gig

It is a boarding facility so I don't suspect the private owners would approve anyway...

Thanks for all the grand ideas, guys! I think some of these will really help!
 

animalfarm

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I build insulated boxes for all of my stock tanks. 2 x 4 studs framed around the tank with the lip of the tank sitting on the frame. Stuff with R 26 roxal insulation and cover with treated plywood. Cap the open corners. I have done my horse tank 150 gal and three cow tanks 300gal. this way. Before setting the tank in the box, I wrap/tape heating cable around it so that I can plug it in for de-icing if necessary. A 60' heat cable for 300 gal tank only uses 450w as opposed to a regular stock tank heater which uses 1500w. You can also float a piece of 2" styrofoam insulation on top to keep more heat in the water.
 
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