Looking for creative ideas/links to keep water troughs defrosted, with NO electric?

How do the Amish do it? (Dig a hole and put a propane lamp in as I understand)

We have four, and preferably six water troughs we'd like to keep defrosted, without the use of electric. Some of those troughs are metal, some are plastic. Some are 100 gallons, some are 800 gallons.

So I need a variety of ideas of a variety of water troughs.

I have curios horses that play with things, and rip electric tank heaters out. I'm also watering goats and sheep.

Has anyone tried floating a inner tube in the water trough?

What are the typical cold temps you deal with, when using your method of choice?

Thank you for any an all suggestions.

6 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    If you have float valves on your tank connected to underground pipelines that's connected to an inexpensive water source (on farm pond), add a T fitting to the inlet with the valve on one side and a hose bib valve on the other side. Crack open the bib and let extra water flow through. Moving water won't freeze no matter how cold it is. The only thing is you need a way to drain the excess water away from the tank to prevent ice from forming and animals slipping.

    If it doesn't get too cold, collect some used, black quart oil bottles, fill them about half full of water and let them float on top. Their movement will help stop ice formation and when the sun comes up, they'll absorb heat and thaw a bit around each bottle. Covering part of the tank with plywood or such will help conserve heat as well.

    Instead of going the propane fuel tank heater, instead take bottle LP gas, hook up a small hose with a weight tied to the end and submerse the weighted end into the water. Crack open the tank and let it bubble a bit. You'll soon learn how far to open it to keep the ice down compared to the temperature. There is so little gas involved that it's absolutely harmless to animals and depending upon the weather, one or two of the bar-b-que grill sized bottles will usually get you through the winter. That way you don't have to worry about the heater going out or electric heaters becoming unplugged or melting a hole through the plastic tank.

    If you have a pond or well and wasting water is no problem, consider using tire tanks. Backhoe tires work well for sheep and goats although it's a good idea to fasten a piece of fence panel over the top to keep a kid or lamb from playing and falling in. For bigger animals, quarry loader tires or combine rice tires work well. Assuming you're in the US, your local NRCS-soil & water conservation district should have plans for tire tanks. If not, email me and I'll send you plans for making inexpensive tire water tanks that are about 1/6th the cost of plastic energy free tanks.

    I developed the design for the Missouri NRCS and I have five of my own.

  • herne
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Plastic Watering Trough

  • a tao
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    We only occasionally get -8 or -10 at worst, so going out in the morning and smashing the ice will do for us.

    Anything that floats will make the ice thinner and easier for an animal to break, it would need to float with much of it below the water. An inner tube would float on the top. Also, once the ice was broken your float could be under or over the ice and not work.


    Just had an idea that victorian gardeners used to grow fruit in mid winter. What they did was put a box of damp straw around things that were sensitive to frost. The straw would compost, generating heat. They could grow strawberries in sub zero temps.

    I guess you know what heppens if a half ton bale of hay gets wet, the way it can get hot enough to burst into flames when its opened.

  • 1 decade ago

    We get down to 40 below at least once a year in Iowa. We have heatless waterers that use ground heat to keep them thawed. They are specially insulated and a space is dug, like a false well, under the insulated housing. On blowing cold days we still need to pour hot water in the waterers to thaw out the floating balls that seal in the ground head. The cattle push down these balls to access the thawed water and then they float up to seal the heat in again.

    To keep troughs thawed I have used portable propane heaters with wind blockers to heat the metal trough waterers. Otherwise you need to dump your water at night and refill it in the morning so you don't get a giant solid ice cube. This is what I do with our horses. They come up at the time I usually water them and get their fill. I then water them again in the evening.

    Source(s): Farmer in Iowa
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  • 5 years ago

    creative ideaslinks water troughs defrosted electric

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    I have had goldfish in my tank every summer. I do take them out in the fall so they don't freeze or touch the tank heater. The horses do not drink them ever. The fish can see and swim off the second a muzzle nears the water. No chance the horse will swallow them! To anyone who thinks the horses will drink them....go find a fish aquarium and stick you hand in. Watch what the fish do...they move away fast!

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