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#1 grenzehund

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 12:22 PM

We're still figuring out our winter watering situation for our flock of 15 sheep. (Breaking ice will get old fast!). Hoping you all could weigh in with your thoughts...

The stock tank is currently right next to the water source - a 4 foot hose from the spigot can fill it. But it is 70 feet from electricity, so we'd need a 100 ft extension cord for the heater. The other option is to place the tank next to the barn, nearer to the electricity source (much shorter extension cord) but then we'd need to extend the hose 40-50 feet for the water and hang it so it doesn't freeze.

I'm a bit cautious with electricity, so don't like the idea of the long extension cord running out from the barn, plus the draining of energy it entails. But freezing hoses sound like a nuisance if that happens regularly. So, extension cord or hose?

Thanks,
Susan

(we're in southeastern Michigan, so it doesn't get crazy cold, but!)

#2 Debbie Meier

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 01:22 PM

We have our stocktank just inside the barn out of the wind and where the sun can hit it in the morning and afternoons. This also allows for a short extension cord but long hose, 75'. I end up running the hose up over our fuel tank (10' high) and then drag it up the hill slowly, this allows it to drain real well. Placing your hose in a 55 gallon barrel with a lid and 60 watt lightbulb will also help keep it from freezing up in between uses.
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#3 bcnewe2

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 01:36 PM

Id go for the long extension. A good one and cover any plug parts with tape and buckets over to keep ice off them. Not ideal but has worked for us when in a pickle.
I hate frozen hoses....one of my pet peeves is working the hose with wet cold hands. Sucks!

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#4 Jumpin Boots

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 01:44 PM

I agree, i'd go with the long extension cord over the hose. You can always unplug it when not in use and it's probably worth buying a 100 foot cord so you don't have to deal with plugs, moving cold hoses in the winter sinks and it seems impossible to drain all the water out so often I've had to deal with blocked hoses anyway ;(

#5 juliepoudrier

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 03:22 PM

How about a solar tank heater (if you get enough sunlight to make it practical)? I cringe at the use of untended electricity around any barn--it's a very real fire hazard, and you can't always predict when an outlet is going to blow or something unforeseen is going to damage an electric cord and create a very real hazard. For the first time ever, I used a fan last year in a stall in which I had a ewe in a headgate while I grafted lambs to her. It was unseasonably warm and I feared for her health. But I was home all day so could keep an eye on things. I don't think I could bring myself to leave anything plugged in and running all the time if I wasn't around to monitor.

Here's a build-it-yourself solar heated stock tank.

And here's the Mother Earth News version, which looks very similar to the above.

A nice building project for the two of you, and you'd keep your electric bill low, improve your carbon footprint, and not have to worry about burning down your barn!

J.

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#6 bcnewe2

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 05:08 PM

I have a fan high up that I use all summer. My plugs are all higher than livestock can reach. I can see.the extension cord issue but I was under the impression it wasn't in a barn.
Do you leave other things plugged in when not monitoring them Julie?
I think a heavy duty outside extension cord kept out of water would be ok as long as sheep weren't trampling it.

Always something to worry bout in the winter....

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#7 juliepoudrier

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 06:14 PM

Where I am now, I don't have electric in my barn. There is a well house out in one pasture area with electric, but I would not run heaters, etc. off it because I wouldn't want to burn the wellhouse down either, lol. Mice could chew cords, electric outlets fail, etc. For stock tank heaters/de-icers you have the added concern of any stray voltage giving the livestock a shock when they try to drink, which can put them at health risk if they refuse to drink as much as they should. I assumed that they would be running th cord from the barn.

That said, we used stock tank heaters for the horses when I was a child and never burned anything down. I'm just overly cautious I guess. Like I said, the only time I've ever left anything running was when I thought that the risk (fire) was lower than the benefit (keeping the ewe in the headgate from overheating, especially since her movement was very restricted. But I don't normally keep animals closed in where getting overheated would be an issue. And the chickens do without the benefit of a light for warmth at night.

Fortunately I live where we don't get extended cold, and so I just break ice, which can be a real PITA. If I lived where icy water was more of a problem, I'd build myself a solar stock tank.

J.

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Julie Poudrier
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Willow (6/1997-5/2014, run free, my heart), Boy (3/1995-10/2010, RIP), Jill (8/1996-5/2012, RIP), Farleigh (12/1998-7/2014, RIP), Kat, Twist, Lark, Phoebe, Pipit, and Birdie!
Willow's Rest, Tunis and mule sheep



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#8 Laurae

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 06:44 PM

If the water in a stock tank is frozen, will sheep hydrate with snow?

Cheers,
Laura
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#9 juliepoudrier

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 07:44 PM

I understand that sheep will eat snow for hydration. That's not usually an option here though....

J.

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Julie Poudrier
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Willow (6/1997-5/2014, run free, my heart), Boy (3/1995-10/2010, RIP), Jill (8/1996-5/2012, RIP), Farleigh (12/1998-7/2014, RIP), Kat, Twist, Lark, Phoebe, Pipit, and Birdie!
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#10 Laurae

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 08:15 PM

Thanks Julie, very good to know. We have about a foot of snow on the ground here, after a storm Thursday, another one this morning, and more snow expected tomorrow. We're also experiencing a cold snap that calls for overnight lows in the single digits and daytime highs in the twenties. I've been going out to make sure my sheep have lots of hay, and I break up the ice when I am there feeding, but I am sure it freezes right back up fairly quickly. I was only able to get out there once yesterday and once today, and if it does snow again tomorrow I'll only get out there once again, so I was really hoping they might consume the snow. Times like these, I so wish my sheep lived on my property!

Cheers,
Laura
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And Craig waiting at the bridge.

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#11 bcnewe2

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 08:32 AM

Last year when we had 5 feet of snow on the ground (unheard of in MO) my sheep never made it up to the waterers. So they got minimal hydration with snow but they looked a bit worse for the wear when I finally was able to get them up.

Sheep don't drink near as much in the winter and I find that if you come out at certain times to break the ice or throw hay, they sheep will learn to take advantage of that time and meet you at the tank.

I think it was a Pipestone article that I read once that said they only water their sheep every other day and all their sheep are right there when the water comes. Can't remember why but I think it was a management thing.

I have plugs in my barn, I will use them, but now after reading Julies responses I will worry! ;)

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#12 juliepoudrier

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 09:05 AM

Didn't mean to scare anyone. I was married to a fireman and my FIL was also a fireman, so I probably got a healthy dose of fire paranoia from them. And being raised with horses, warnings about potential fire hazards in the stable were common, so I guess I come by it naturally!

But you're right Kristen--last year I just paid attention to when the sheep normally drank and made sure the ice was broken then. Of course that's not easy to do if you're away at work all day....

J.

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~Vincent van Gogh



mydogs_small2.jpg

Julie Poudrier
New Kent, VA
Willow (6/1997-5/2014, run free, my heart), Boy (3/1995-10/2010, RIP), Jill (8/1996-5/2012, RIP), Farleigh (12/1998-7/2014, RIP), Kat, Twist, Lark, Phoebe, Pipit, and Birdie!
Willow's Rest, Tunis and mule sheep



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#13 grenzehund

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 10:15 AM

Thanks, everyone. I understated when I said I'm cautious about electricity, so I appreciate your perspective, Julie! If I were to extend the hose, and it froze despite best efforts, could I just switch it out with another hose? And, with an extension cord I assume we'd hang it so it wouldn't be walked on by the sheep?

Solar heated stock tank looks like next summer's project!

Susan

#14 Debbie Meier

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 10:45 AM

Susan, be certain to drain your hose and remove it from the hydrant, if you do not you could end up with not only a frozen hose but also a frozen up hydrant.
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#15 juliepoudrier

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 11:09 AM

Susan,
Yes, if you have multiple hoses, you could have a back-up ice-free hose to use if you fail to fully drain the regular hose. Debbie makes a good point, too. I always remove the hose from the faucet/hydrant when temps are going to drop below freezing--you could not only freeze the hydrant but also potentially damage the plumbing.

As for an electric cord, I think I'd run along the ground inside a piece of PVC, so that it's protected from the elements and the livestock.

J.

I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream.

~Vincent van Gogh



mydogs_small2.jpg

Julie Poudrier
New Kent, VA
Willow (6/1997-5/2014, run free, my heart), Boy (3/1995-10/2010, RIP), Jill (8/1996-5/2012, RIP), Farleigh (12/1998-7/2014, RIP), Kat, Twist, Lark, Phoebe, Pipit, and Birdie!
Willow's Rest, Tunis and mule sheep



Visit me on Facebook at Poudrier and Crowder, Set Out Specialists (P&C, SOS)


#16 Debbie Meier

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 11:23 AM

A horse trainer I used to work for had the best set up, he built a 12' deep by 4 foot tall and wide room around his hydrant in the barn and lined it with foam insulation and hung a light bulb in it. It was large enough to hang the hose in it coild up. I don't recall having any problems with the hose freezing so long as the light bulb did not burn out.

In our parts it is impossible to get through winter without some type of heater, we put it off as long as we can but soon we will be running two stock tank heaters and a large heated bucket in the lambing area. We also use the heated tank to change out the dog water dishes which end up frozen solid within a couple/few hours. Way easier to toss the dishes in the tank then to mess around with breaking up ice, also reduces the number of times we have to run the hoses.
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#17 bcnewe2

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 04:04 PM

If you can't pay attention to when your sheep drink, they will quickly learn to pay attention to when you break ice! ;)

And I need to be reminded to be a bit more careful with fire hazards! Thanks J!

Kristen
 

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#18 gcv-border

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 09:40 PM

I have my frost-free water hydrant (I hope I am using the correct terminology - the hydrant drains below the freeze depth when shut off) wrapped with about 4 feet of heat tape which is then covered with foam pipe insulation kept in place with electrical tape. Even though the hydrant is not supposed to freeze, a couple of times when the temps drop into the low teens, it has been frozen. (maybe due to the fact that the contractor did not really install the drain hole deep enough??) I am lucky to have an electrical outlet about 3 feet away. I only plug in the heat tape when I know that the night temps are going to be in the mid-teens or lower.

At a previous barn, I had a stock tank with a de-icer in it to keep the water from freezing. I used a hose from the house (about 100 feet away) to fill the stock tank (~ once per week) and then would dip water out of the tank to fill water buckets. Since the animals were not able to access the stock tank, I insulated it by wrapping batts of insulation around it (kept in place with baling twine) and covered the top with a piece of plywood and rigid foam insulation. It was a rather cumbersome set-up, but still easier than running a hose every day.

Jovi

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#19 Maralynn

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 09:51 PM

We always carry water in 5 gallon buckets during the winter time. It's about 30 ft between the spiggot and the tank. More of a pain than in the summer, but frozen hoses are a real pain to deal with as they can break pretty easily when frozen. It ends up taking less time to haul the water than it does to get the hose out then drain it when we're done.

The stock tank is near an outlet and we keep a deicer in it as long as it's below freezing.

Another option which hasn't been mentioned is installing an outdoor outlet near your watering set up so you don't need to run extension cords for that distance.

Mara
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