How to Keep Horse Water Buckets from Freezing
It’s that time of year again when the temperatures start to plummet below freezing. Nothing about caring for horses in the winter is easy, but breaking ice in water buckets can be the most tedious task. Just because you were crushing ice in water buckets last year doesn’t mean you have to do the same this year!
If you’re proactive, you can make your life much easier and maybe even prevent the ice altogether. Here are some tips for keeping horse water buckets from freezing.
Remove Ice Chunks Completely or Use a De-Icer
When there is ice in a bucket, don’t just break it up and leave it to refreeze in the bucket. Instead, remove all ice chunks completely from the bucket. Removing the ice will prevent new ice from forming quickly because ice forms quicker in a water source when there is already ice. De-Icers can be used to prevent ice from accumulating on the top of the bucket.
Harness the Power of Dirt or Manure
This may seem weird, but you can use dirt or manure compost to insulate the water bucket and prevent ice. To utilize manure, you can use a round muck tub and a 5-gallon bucket. Place a layer of dirt or manure compost in the bottom of the muck tub. Set the bucket on top of that layer in the middle of the tub. Be sure to fill the space around the bucket with more dirt, manure, or straw.
Use a Saltwater Mix in a Bottle
Did you know that saltwater freezes more slowly than regular tap water? You can utilize a saltwater solution to help prevent your horse’s water bucket from freezing.
Mix salt with water and fill a 20-ounce bottle about three-quarters of the way full. Make sure the lid is tight, and put the salt water bottle in the bucket of water. The constant movement of the bottle while your horse drinks water should keep the water from freezing completely.
Use Rubber Buckets or Insulators
To help prevent your horse’s water buckets from freezing, you can place the water buckets in an insulated space, such as a shed or a feed room. These insulated spaces will slow the water's cooling rate and prevent freezing. You can also add a small lamp or heater in the shed or feed room to prevent the water from turning to ice on the coldest days. If that's not possible, consider using rubber buckets rather than plastic or metal. They are more insulated and will slow freezing.
SHOP: Rubber Buckets
Believe it or not, how you position the buckets can affect the rate of ice forming. One of the best ways to prevent horse water buckets from freezing is by placing them near one another. You will increase the area's temperature by placing the buckets near one another. Horses will also group to drink from their buckets, increasing the temperature of the entire space.
It’s helpful to keep track of how much your horse is drinking. Once you gauge how much they drink daily, fill their buckets with just over this amount. That way, excess water does not have the chance to create a buildup of ice.
If you’re using this method, you must check the buckets often to ensure that your horse is getting enough water. If the buckets are completely empty every time, add more than usual.
Insulate with Tires
You can utilize tires to help insulate water buckets and keep them from freezing—position rocks within the interior portion of tires. Leave the tires in the sun so they can absorb warmth. At night, put the tire around the buckets. As long as the tires are a tight fit, they'll keep the water warm enough to drink all night long!
Automatic Waterers & Heated Buckets
If you have a lot of horses, automatic watering units can be very effective. A constant flow of horses looking for a drink will ensure the water flows without freezing. Many automatic watering units are designed with an internal heating mechanism as well. If you are using buckets in the barn, heated buckets are also a good alternative to automatic waterers.SHOP: Heated Buckets