Cold Weather Water Tip

posted Feb 3, 2011, 10:23 AM by Patricia Woodbury-Kuvik
My good friend Letha won "Tip of the Month" in Darcie Litwicki's newsletter - I've adapted it for the Arctic cold wave that's hit Arizona this week.

Here in Sunny Arizona, we're not used to breaking up two or three inches of ice on our water tanks. The automatic waterers that serve as the main (or only) source of water for many horses are frozen up solid.  With frozen hoses, and the barn a fair distance from my house I need a way to get drinking water to my horses. Preferably warm or even hot water to bring their water buckets up to drinking temperature.

The five gallon buckets I get my supplements in (thank you HorseTech) are pretty manageable - I can fill them with hot water, load them in the back of my truck and drive them to the barn. But how do I keep from sloshing half the water into the bed of my truck?

Letha had suggested using trash bags in a muck bucket on a cart to keep water clean and from splashing when hauling water while camping.  Using this same technique, I can line my five gallon buckets with a "kitchen" size trash bag, fill with hot water from my kitchen sink, then tie them off to load in the truck.  I'll do this at night to ensure they have drinkable water while they eat their main portion of hay, then do the same in the morning to bring the tank in their turnout up to drinking temperature.  

If your barn isn't too far from the house, using the larger muck bucket or 5 gallon buckets on a cart may work for you.  If I only needed one or two buckets, I would consider using the wheel barrow (it's two-wheeled so doesn't tip easily) to take the buckets over to the barn but for five or six, the truck works best.

Make sure if using "kitchen" trash bags as liner that they are the unscented ones.  If you'll be doing this several days, consider using two as a double liner - the cost is well worth the hassle saved.

Check your automatic waterers - even if the water in the bowls isn't frozen the mechanism can freeze up.  Put securely fastened water buckets in each stall or pen, watch that they don't freeze over and monitor that your horses are drinking enough water - at least five gallons for an "average" size horse based on NRC guidelines. 

Increasing the salt in your horse's ration can encourage drinking but this can backfire on you if the water is not available - either because the bucket or waterer is frozen or the water is too cold for your horse to comfortably drink.

Of course those stalwart horse owners living in the north are probably thinking "...those weenies - we deal with freezing temperatures all winter long." But the bottom line is we don't expect or anticipate weather like this - it can sneak up and take us and our horses by surprise. So haul out those buckets of warm water - and remember this will only last a few days.