Winter Woes -- Bought a heated muck bucket! :)

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by accio! chickens, Dec 10, 2009.

  1. accio! chickens

    accio! chickens Songster

    Nov 28, 2009
    I need to put a trough heater on my big mares water trough next week. I will have to use a 100ft and a 20ft heavy duty extension cord (electrical taped at the connection).

    What do you guys think? Its the only way her water will get heated, it won't be running in the field and I will put it up on t-posts to keep it off the ground. Might even get some pipe insulation to keep it from getting brittle and freezing. I have 200amp service in my barn and it'll be the only thing hooked up aside from my fencer.

    ALSO, how much energy/how much do you pay to run a stock tank heater for a 100gallon tank?

    Anyone have any suggestions for my pony mares water? Her field is too far from the barn to run extension cords and I can't move her closer until spring because we started digging for the other run-in shed and the ground froze on us so theres 4 huge holes in the ground (and plus, that field is still too far away). She has a muck bucket as her water tank and so far it hasn't been doing badly. She hasn't been drinking much and eats snow sometimes. Would molasses and hot water help make her water more enticing? We do this with our goats and it really works. How about electrolytes in the water?

    We were thinking of boxing her bucket in with plywood and insulating it and giving it an insulated lid of plywood with a hole big enough for her nose in the middle of it. Would this work to keep it from freezing too often? Do you think she'd drink from this?
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2009

  2. babalubird

    babalubird Songster

    Jul 21, 2008
    We bought a fairly inexpensive submergible heater for our 100 gal tank 3 years ago. It's great! You're supposed to replace every two years, but we goofed up and didn't order in time. So far, it's still working in its third year, but will order as a back-up, just in case.

    I like the submergibles because my horses think everything is a toy. We position the cord under the edge of an electric fence so that's not a tempting toy either. Also, an important feature is an automatic thermostat. Ours was advertised to come on any time the water goes under 50 degrees and has never failed us to keep water from freezing, though we are in Central Texas where our worst is usually 22 degrees a few nights. So covering like you described is probably a great idea to hold in more of the heat.

    Our heater only requires 110.

    Good luck.

  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Are they *living* in the field, or is this just daytime turnout?

    If it is just daytime turnout, I know it kind of sucks but you will probably just have to carry out buckets when you put them out in the morning. Ideally buckets of warm water; and buy or make an insulated thingie for the bucket or trough. If you can go out once or more during the day and break the ice, even bring fresh water on the coldest days, that would be ideal, although you may be able to get away without liquid water for the afternoon if you *have* to and they aren't colic-prone horses.

    If they are living in the field, however, IMHO you are in trouble -- needed to take care of trenching in electric (or digging-in an earth-source water 'heater') back when the weather was warmer. You will just about HAVE to run extension cords out there -- if this is not possible where the pony is, I hate to say it but that's REAL trouble unless you will commit to bucketing hot water out there *several* times a day, including dawn and before bedtime. Running extension cords may not work especially well, btw, depending on what you are using as a heater -- that length of cord, even if it is the super-heavy-duty (which you NEED here, because it is thicker and causes less electrical resistance), can really sap the power of an appliance, so that even if you *don't* overheat the cord and start a fire, or damage it and electrocute someone or something, you may or may not have all the oomph of the heater at your actual disposal.

    If you *have* to run an extension cord, my suggestion is to use a relatively small container (not a 100gal trough!!) and insulate it very, very well (in a horse-safe way obviously). This allows you to get away with less wattage to heat it. You will have to bucket water out to it more often if it is small, but it is less likely to fail altogether. Your description of how to construct an insulated enclosure is quite reasonable as long as you use very sturdy materials (like, 3/4" plywood) and screws not nails; a lid with a nose-hole usually works once the horse figures it out (remember to make the hole large enough for her to get her head all the way to the bottom of the bucket), and/or a hard plastic float that the horse depresses to access the water (may be able to scrounge something that'll work, e.g. plastic icebucket lid)

    A thing that I like is the blue muck-bucket-sized tubs with the heating element built right into them; they are something like 150-250 watts (I forget) but will keep a 24-hr supply of water for 1-2 horses (per tub) liquid down to any temperature you're going to experience. Mine have gotten a slight rim of ice when things get down to like -34 C, but the horses can still drink easily.

    It is generally a really bad idea to put molasses or electrolytes or anything else the horse is not used to into their winter water. First, many horses will drink *less* under those circumstances; and secondly, it is not difficult to induce loose bowels that way, which is counterproductive if the horses' access to liquid water is somewhat limited. With many horses you can *slightly* increase their water intake by feeding them a warm beet-pulp mash (if they will eat it) made very wet, or if you are feeding them a pelleted concentrate you can "mash-ify" it with as much warm water as the horse will accept. That is not really a substitute for adequate drinking-water access though.

    I sure hope this is only a daily-turnout situation...

    (edited to add: you can figure out roughly how much it'll cost by looking at the wattage of your heater, dividing by 1000 (to convert to kilowatts), multiplying by 24 hrs a day and then by 30 days per month, then multiplying by what you pay per kW-hr (look on your hydro bill; I think we're paying roughly 5-6 cents per kW-hr?) to get the *maximum possible* cost. Your actual cost will be somewhat lower if the weather is warm, but will be pretty much the maximum during a cold month. It is common to need 500w or more for a large stock tank like that. You need to make sure your extension cord is up to the load, btw.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Last edited: Dec 10, 2009
  4. hollyandty

    hollyandty Songster

    Jun 3, 2009
    North Pole, Alaska
    I live in North Pole, Alaska and I have 12 horses and 2 chicken coops. It’s only 8 below tonight but they say we are in for some cold weather soon (maybe minus 30) We use old chest freezers for the horse water troughs and they are well insulated. You can put a lid over half of it to keep the heat in. I recommend a large chest freezer so you don’t have to fill it all the time. I believe a 1000-watt tank heater would keep it from freezing. If you are going to run an extension cord may I recommend heavy-duty cold weather cords? We have them all around outside. We keep them where there won't be lots of traffic but believe me they have been stepped on and run over with the tractor.

    A couple years ago we set up one water tank by the house and brought the horses to the water a couple times a day. It got us to work with them everyday and they learned to drink when they had the opportunity. We could almost let them out and they would go to the water by themselves. (Problem was getting them back to their own area)

    My husband figured out a way to use the heaters that go through the wall of the freezer. Let me know if you want more info on that and I'll get pictures. Good luck.

  5. It might be very costly to heat 100gal of water... I would buy a 30 unless you have a lot of animals. Most heaters are 1200 to 1500 watts so heating extra water is costly
  6. accio! chickens

    accio! chickens Songster

    Nov 28, 2009
    Pat they are on 24 hour turnout. Last year we did fairly well with the pony and the muck bucket (just a plain muck bucket). I filled up once a day with hot water in the morning, and depending on the whether, in the evening too. I always made sure the ice was cracked open though and I am down there several times a day cracking the ice open and making sure they're fine.

    I do have a 30 gallon poly tank I bought for our goats over the summer that is no longer being used. I can get almost any size from Bridle Path Tack.

    I thought if I cut a big blue drum in half/1/4 (I have one hanging around) and insulated the muck bucket with spray foam and thick basement type styro insulation and then putting the muck bucket in it (sealing the edges, etc.). I could insulate the lid and it should work somewhat if I put a bucket of hot water in it daily.

    The other tank is only about 120ft from the barn and I can add a line to the panel to make it closer to the end of the barn that is close to the field. Possible knocking off 25-30ft which would allow me to use only one extension cord (with a GFI receptacle).

    The pony has had electrolytes in her water before, over the summer I put some in her water to keep her hydrated in the sun.

    So the plan so far is to downsize the tank in the big mares field to a 30 gallon and give her a tank heater on an extension cord, and insulate the pony's bucket and take down buckets twice a day of hot water and smash the ice more than once a day. Actually, I only needed to smash the ice twice today and it was extra cold out! .. It's not so bad when it's not windy has all heck, I don't mind being down there with them. It's a great opportunity for me to work on ground manners and my relationship with the new mare. The pony is not colic prone, we dealt with her water just by breaking the ice and adding some hot water last winter and she did fine.

    I think I WILL make her a mash. They're both on purina horse chow so I can soak it in some hot water and make them a hot mash for breakkie and dinner. It should help at least a little.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2009
  7. accio! chickens

    accio! chickens Songster

    Nov 28, 2009
    Also Pat, I am the first to admit this is not an ideal situation but not everyone has the resources to put in electrics to all their fields. I couldn't afford or had the time to do it this summer with fencing going up, but we plan on trying to get at least the two middle fields hooked up for next winter. I wish I could move the pony up to the middle field but we started digging for a run-in shed in the west field and didn't get to finish before the ground froze unfortunately. It's not at all ideal but that's how it is.

    When we had horses out west we didn't have heated water and the horses were out 24/7. I'm less worried about our big mare and more about the pony, but she had more water than the big mare today and I make sure that it's cracked open and liquid before I go up to the house for the night and then first thing in the morning I crack it open and depending on how cold it is I'll put a bucket of hot water in it (like... scalding hot... ).

  8. Skyesrocket

    Skyesrocket Songster

    Mar 20, 2008
    Yuck! I hate winter! [​IMG]
    If I understand this right, the pony is by herself? If you are going out to her 2 times a day anyway, why not just take a horse bucket with warm water to her in the morning and then again at night? It sounds like you are carrying water to her anyway and if you use two buckets it will save you a trip. My horses never drank as much in the winter as they did in the summer. And they have a run in inside of the barn with water all the time. I guess because they don't lose as much through sweating during the winter.
  9. farrier!

    farrier! Songster

    Feb 28, 2009
    Southern Illinois
    I lived in Southern Wisconsin. When I plugged in 2 water heaters my bill increased by 300.
    This was 4 years ago. It would be worse now... [​IMG]

    A fish tank bubbler will help keep the water open and lower the heating cost.
    I also found that the Nelson waterers costs a lot less to run then heating a tank of water.

  10. KinderKorner

    KinderKorner Songster

    Mar 8, 2009
    Southern Illinois
    Yeah. I have a field of horses, 8 pens of chickens, 2 pens of goats, cats, and a pig. I have one water pump. And I have to haul water to every animal at least 3 times a day. Fun times... Especially when they are spread over 12 acres. I have health problems and can only haul 3 gallons at a time at most. So I have to make many many trips, blah.

    Perhaps thats why I haven't gone outside and done it yet this morning. I'm putting it off. [​IMG]

    I have a 40 gallon horse tank. And I just haul a few buckets over a few times a day. Or if it's full I break the ice.

    I hate winter with animals.

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