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Answers to your questions about gardening, energy, homesteading and other sustainable living topics.


How to Keep Livestock Water from Freezing

DIY Solar Heated Stock Tank

Wetting one’s whistle can be difficult in winter! We asked our Facebook fans how to keep livestock water from freezing when the weather gets cold. Here are some of their super-cool techniques.

We always “bank” the tank with wet manure and cover it all with black plastic. We leave a hole for one-at-a-time drinking. The manure’s heat keeps the water from freezing too hard, even in our frigid Minnesota winters. — Barb Voth


We used to use electric water heaters. I have since built the solar stock tank from plans in MOTHER EARTH NEWS, which works amazingly, and I now save about $300 per month on electricity. (To read about the DIY solar stock tank Tina mentions, read Build a Solar Stock Tank. — MOTHER EARTH NEWS) Last winter here in the East was a true test, but we never had more than a skim of ice on the water in the morning thanks to our solar-heated unit. — Tina Durborow


My uncle built a motion-activated livestock waterer. When the cattle come for a drink, the motion sensor triggers the setup to pump water from way down in the ground. The water swirls around the bowl (which he made out of a tire), the cattle drink, and then the water drains back down. We live in Manitoba, where winter temperatures normally average minus 13 degrees Fahrenheit. — Carla Marsh


For our chickens, we set a regular incandescent light bulb inside a cinder block, put a metal water pan on top, and turn on the bulb (at least 60 watts). Presto! No ice. — Kate Hughes Brown


We use a submersible heater on a thermostat. When we get a week or two at minus 22 degrees, the heater will come on every hour. Our winter is seven months long, with temperatures mostly sitting at 15 to minus 6 degrees. Heaters make my life easier. — Andrea Procee


Most of my pastures have fresh spring water, but I have arranged mirrors in tandem to catch the midday sun and focus the sunlight on the water in our animals’ stock tank. — Joe Richardson


We mix molasses with warm water and then pour it into the water trough. The sugars in the molasses act as a natural antifreeze. The water will get slushy but typically won’t freeze, and the molasses encourages our horses to drink. — Peter Later

Photo by Gary Reysa: Reader Tina Durborow reports that this DIY solar-heated stock tank design works amazingly.

forested
1/19/2016 1:06:39 PM

I buried a couple tanks in a slow compost pile to keep the water warm for my flock of pastured ducks. Here's a video that shows the setup: https://youtu.be/m2HRaBm0Z_8