How can I keep a livestock watering system from freezing in the winter?
Answer: If you plan to use a watering system when pipes and water troughs can freeze, you will need to plan ahead. If you use a solar-powered system, keep in mind the solar panels stop generating power at night, when temperatures are lowest. Also, solar electric technology is good for pumping water but not very good for electric resistance heating. You have several options to prevent freeze-up, including using heat from the earth or sun, insulating system components, or continuously circulating water. When you install the system, you will need to reduce the chances of freeze-up of components that may be in contact with water. You will need to bury piping below the frost line. If the system includes a well, install a pitless adapter. Any above-ground sections of piping should be insulated and arranged to drain at night or when it’s cloudy and water is not being pumped. Frost-free hydrants may not work in this situation. If the handle is left up and the solar-pumped water stops running, because of lack of sunlight at night or because it’s cloudy, the hydrant will freeze.There are several ways to keep watering tanks open and storage tanks from freezing. Each livestock watering situation is different, so you will need to create a solution for your site, weather, and terrain. The ATTRA publication Freeze Protection for Livestock Watering Systems offers a number of suggestions for keeping water open, which should be useful.