Battling Frozen Water for Your Livestock? Learn Ways to Protect Your Water from Freezing.

Providing an adequate supply of water for livestock is essential for success. Access to water prevents dehydration and maintains animal performance. This is often challenging during the winter months especially when utilizing water sources that have no electricity available.

When deciding which methods will work best for your facilities remember to keep fire and electrical safety in mind, especially when installing heaters or lamps. Adding insulation with straw/hay to a pump house or well will help conserve the heat; but will also attract rodents and hold moisture.

Ideas for decreasing water sources from freezing:

  1. If electricity is available, use a submersible electric tank or bucket heater.
  2. Underground pipes freezing because of fresh backfill or thin cover? Add insulation to the top of the ground by using straw/hay, leaves or even snow.
  3. Liquid propane gas stock tank heaters are available for those without electricity nearby. These are a small propane burner encased in a hollow metal pipe.
  4. Energy- free waters channel heat from the ground below and use insulation to keep the water warm.
  5. Add insulation to the outside of a water tank even to the water surface to help conserve heat. Take extra care to protect the insulation from animal chewing, manure, and spilled water.
  6. For a large stock tank without access to electricity an inexpensive alternative is a propane bubbler. The bubbles are not harmful to livestock. These bubbles carry warmer water from the bottom of the tank to surface and will maintain a small open hole in the ice.

When utilizing any of the above methods be sure to secure electric cords away from teeth, feet, and legs of livestock. Any extension cords used outdoors need to be labeled for outdoor use, follow all manufacturer guidelines on heaters, and be sure all electric heaters are properly grounded.

Sabrina Schirtzinger, ANR Educator Knox County, can be reached at 740-397-0401 or