View Full Version : Automatic Waterers In Stalls

Jan. 14, 2009, 11:46 AM
I am considering putting automatic heated waterers in my stalls. Do you have them? What brand? What do you love and what do you hate?

My horses are only in for about 1 1/2 hours in the mornings for feed and about 4 hours in the evenings, but I am tired of filling water buckets.


Jan. 14, 2009, 01:43 PM

Jan. 14, 2009, 01:54 PM
I have the Nelsons in my stalls and in my turnout. LOVE them...although I think the horses love them more. Hardy as heck, impossible to flood, work like a charm, have auto shut off/turn on depending on ambient temps, you can get them with gauges so you know how much they're drinking and the water is always, always fresh. They do need to be checked at least once daily: remove lid, lock water, remove bowl, dump and wipe out before replacing and unlocking the water supply again. Takes all of about 30 seconds per waterer. Worth every penny.

Jan. 14, 2009, 03:12 PM
I have auto waterers too. I love mine- no more carrying buckets, no worrying if the horses have water.

I have a few different types, and the ones that I like best have an on/off thingy on the water supply, and a drain in the bottom. Makes 'em super easy to clean!

Jan. 14, 2009, 03:13 PM
I am considering putting automatic heated waterers in my stalls. Do you have them? What brand? What do you love and what do you hate?

My horses are only in for about 1 1/2 hours in the mornings for feed and about 4 hours in the evenings, but I am tired of filling water buckets.


Our barn came with a couple of them....quickly discovered out beasts were very good at pooping in them........much easier to clean a bucket..........

Jan. 14, 2009, 03:30 PM
My friends have the Nelsons and they're great. They have them in box stalls and five of the tie stalls. They get pooped in every once in a great while and they're not too hard to clean. One horse that goes in a tie stall isn't allowed to be in a stall w/ a waterer because she thinks it's a fun toy and gets water everywhere!! She's a goofy girl.

Jan. 14, 2009, 06:09 PM
I have automatic waterers, but I don't like the bucket style, for the already mentioned problems and also I don't like that the water just sits in them when they are not being used. Mine are the push type, no old yucky water that needs cleaning and the horse would have to be quite a contortionist to be able to poop in one! :D

Jan. 14, 2009, 06:12 PM
Nelsons with heater. love them.

Jan. 14, 2009, 06:19 PM

Jan. 14, 2009, 10:57 PM
Another Nelsons fan here...I have them in my stalls as well as my pastures.

Seriously, if I ever build a barn again - the Nelsons are a MUST HAVE.

If I had to choose one over the other between the field and the barns - I'd choose my pastures - I swear it makes life SO MUCH easier! I have one pasture that doesn't have the waterer - it drives me nuts. I put waterers in the two other pastures and kick myself for not doing in the 3rd. I will likely add it this summer.

My horses have fresh, cold, clean water 100% of the time. And in the winter, they have room temperature, fresh, clean water all the time. Never any mildew or algae. They are awesome. Super easy to wipe clean too. Huge time saver and the horses love them.

Definitely worth the money!

Jan. 14, 2009, 11:07 PM
I have the Nelson waterers, too, and love them. Money well spent.

Jan. 14, 2009, 11:39 PM
19 Nelsons with heaters here. No complaints.

Jan. 14, 2009, 11:48 PM
My word of advice, definitely be willing to spend the money on good ones. The cheapy ones from your local feed mill don't hold up to horsey abuse. They tend to bend the floats and then they overflow nonstop. We've tried just about every lower quality auto-waterer, and it's just better to go with the good high quality ones. The bucket ones are especially bad, because not only do they overflow, but they're wall-mounted and damn near impossible to clean. We wound up switching back to buckets and hoses:(

Jan. 17, 2009, 09:09 PM
both put in "Richie" waterers in pastures , the 2nd replaces NEW NELSONs because the were soooooooo horrible--sand particles jammed them up and to fix (nearly daily) they had to be drained an dissasemble tiny part under water---in zero degree weather this was a major design flaw.

The heated Ritchies were so wonderful last year, BO WERE VERY HAPPY WITH THE CHANGE FROM Nelsons.

I just bought a farm w bubbling artesian springs---havnt frozen in this -20F weather but cant Put them in!!! Ill put in Richies when build barn when/if spring comes.. klr

Summit Springs Farm
Jan. 18, 2009, 12:04 PM
I have nelsons and love em, easy to clean, no worries

Jan. 18, 2009, 12:16 PM
both put in "Richie" waterers in pastures , the 2nd replaces NEW NELSONs because the were soooooooo horrible--sand particles jammed them up and to fix (nearly daily) they had to be drained an dissasemble tiny part under water---in zero degree weather this was a major design flaw.

The heated Ritchies were so wonderful last year, BO WERE VERY HAPPY WITH THE CHANGE FROM Nelsons.

I just bought a farm w bubbling artesian springs---havnt frozen in this -20F weather but cant Put them in!!! Ill put in Richies when build barn when/if spring comes.. klr

What model Richies did you use for horses?

We just have regular water tanks, the smallest 6', a float and a float box.
Several horses can get around a tank at the same time.

We clean them about every two months and the water really stays very clean in them.
Goldfish work for that too, but then, when you clean, you have to put the fish in buckets with a fish net, clean and put the fish back.

Jan. 18, 2009, 02:31 PM
I dont have a model # but the double sided w/"plastic" domed ,locking cover were better than metal square (metal sides quickly developed rust stains w/hard h20 and had corners (potential for injury) also cribbers couldn't get a grip on the smooth plastic.

Michigan has gravel/sand berms (deposited by glaciers) along w/peat bog/swamps (carved out by same) and the horse rinse mouths in waterers--leaving sand ect to accumulate in addition to algae--actually, w/so many animals the water was constantly being replaced--food particles weren't the problem outside as would be in stalls were you would expect much food (less sand) and little h2o exchange (relative to pasture waterers.

ps double sided is good for putting under a fence to h20 adjacent pastures or if many horses using it.

Jan. 18, 2009, 10:31 PM
Nelsons. Love them. My horse has fresh, clean water all the time and he loves it. They're also very easy to clean.

Jan. 18, 2009, 10:59 PM
Outdoors Ritchie.

Indoor heated barn just the regular cow ones with the float. They are cheap and easy to replace. http://www.tractorsupply.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay_10551_10001_29216_-1______?rFlag=true&cFlag=1 $37 it breaks just replace it. To clean just shop vac them.

Have been dealing with Nelsons for over 10 years. They are great until they have a problem. Then they are a pain in the arse. If your horses monkey with things they will eventually break their Nelson, and parts are expensive. They can get stuck and overflow. The valve is $16 (these do have to be replaced every few years IME), the copper tube is $13 (the horses will eventually bend them unless you have a saint of a horse), and just hope you never have a horse knock the housing in so the lid doesnt go back on :no: If you are doing indoors non-heated barn i guess i would go with nelson with a heater, but make sur eyou understand hwo they work and how to fix them!

Jan. 19, 2009, 08:24 AM
Renae, we have the Little Giant regular ones that you pictured in our barn, and I couldn't be happier with them. Two and a half years and none of them have given up the ghost. They're looking a little more tarnished than I'd like, but I guess when you only pay small money for something, the quality has to suffer somewhere. THe only thing I wish I'd done is to have spouse put in gallon gauges on each pipe before installing the waterers. It's the one feature that the Nelsons (and Ritchies, I assume?) have, that I'd really like.

When we move, I'm doing run-in sheds with waterers, and they'll probably be Nelsons. A lot easier to afford three than nine. ;)

Jan. 19, 2009, 08:43 AM
I've had the Nelsons for 6 years and never a problem other than the occasional cleaning out of the valve under the bowl if it started to drip in the bowl. Takes me all of 3-5 minutes to disassemble the bowl and cage to reach the pin so I can remove the counterbalance, get to the valve, remove and open it and blow/wipe it out and replace everything.
Mine have been kicked, played with for hours on end and used as butt scratchers...not a dent, never broken. The lids on mine are impossible for a horse to remove..I had one gelding who tried constantly to take his apart for a few years and he was never successful.
Ed the dairy farmer not far from me has had his almost 3 decades...he's had to replace the heating element in 2 of his 35 Nelsons. That's it.
Last barn I boarded in one gelding double barreled his Nelson and caused an enormous deep dent in it. Looked ugly, still worked perfectly.
Maybe different Nelsons can be a pita, but the ones I have work perfectly 100% of the time despite some serious equine abuse. :winkgrin:

Jan. 19, 2009, 08:48 AM
I have the ones with the push valve and while I adore the concept because this way there is never any water left to sit, my one broodmare never got a grasp of it. So I have a perfectly working automatic waterer in a stall and a bucket because Madam can't understand how to push on the thingy. First horse I've ever had not understanding that. ;)

Next barn, I am putting bowl automatic waterers.

I am NOT going back to buckets. I mean what a waste of time to haul water around! Outside, I still use a hose and a regular tub and I swear, next barn, I am having heated automatic waterers in each paddock.

Jan. 19, 2009, 09:46 AM
Not to highjack the thread (ok maybe I am)(sorry!)-for those of you with waterers in the paddocks-do you have the tall Nelsons or the shorter ones that can be housed inside a concrete pipe? I'm planning to now put the waterers in the paddocks instead of stalls and just 2 horses will be sharing each waterer between the fenceline. What do you think is better?

Jan. 19, 2009, 10:39 AM
I have the outside Nelson that's just the bowl top and it's set into a sunken concrete pipe. I like it because I could choose it's height and the base is wider and tougher than the plain metal...my waterer is set right into my fenceline so it can be used from both paddocks so I liked the wider base of the cement pipe ones.
My dairy farming friend has the tall metal ones in the center of each huge field for his cows and those work fine for him too.

Jul. 23, 2009, 04:15 PM
Totally new to horses, they are my girlfriends. We are building a new barn. ARG. One of my friends and I were talking about the waterers we would like to place in each stall and he came up with what sounds to easy, so probably will not work. Your thoughts please. Have a tank with a float valve that keeps the water a certain height and have the waterers at a level where the water from the tank would find its same level and just work on gravity. Going to have about a dozen stalls.

Jul. 23, 2009, 04:25 PM
I looooove automatic waters. Naturally being from the West Coast they are standard just about everywhere. When I moved East I as like "what do you mean no automatic waters? what is this "bukkit" you speak of???". I thought you East Coasters were CRAZY dumping, scrubbing and filling water buckets EVERY DAY, even in winter! I was used to automatic waters in stalls (get wiped down and out every couple weeks) and automatic valves in BARRELS or troughs for horses living in pasture, those get dumped and scrubbed once a season. Isulated automatic waters are the way to go, it just means teaching some horses to get over the SOUND and figure it out. Sometimes you just have to stand there and push the paddle down. Let the horse get good the thirsty first! IF you stand there and hold the paddle down a thirsty horse will get over its fear and drink from the basin because your presence should make feel safer about something so new and strange.

Jul. 24, 2009, 03:13 PM
I am still using Nelsons that I bought more than 30 years ago. In the rare case I need a new valve or something they still have them in stock.

Lesley Feakins
Jul. 25, 2009, 01:02 PM
We have the Nelson waterers outside. Wonderful when they work well. However, they almost always break in the middle of winter..grrrr. Now I keep spare parts including heating elements on hand so we can quickly get they repaired and back running again.
My horses and ponies can be hard on them. I have seen more than once a couple of them standing up and with their front feet trying paw at the water.

Jul. 26, 2009, 04:08 PM
We have the Nelsons in our fields and love them. I don't have them in the barn and don't want them there because I find that barn helpers generally can be lazy about checking the Nelsons to make sure they work and fail to clean them regularly (I do the ones in the fields) and occasionally horses poop in them when they are in stalls, which IS a big deal if no one notices all day (plus it is a pain to clean).

Jul. 26, 2009, 04:40 PM
Not to mention when horses use them as toilets in winter...when the heaters are working. Nothing like walking into a stall in the morning to a big steaming bowl of cooked poop-soup. :( :eek: :o
Last place I boarded had the Nelsons in the stalls and one horse pooped in his at least 3-4 times per week. Hung a bucket too for him, he never ever pooped in the bucket. And some horses do poop in the Nelsons...and they have to *aim* to get a pile in there. It's not by accident, LOL!

Jul. 26, 2009, 07:03 PM
Have a 12 stall bank barn without auto waterers and it is extremely labor intensive, and a real pain in the winter. Have a 24 stall barn with heated auto waterers and it is like dying and going to heaven. Have had a few training clients in that were concerned that their horse would not know how to drink from or find the water, we solved by putting some black strap molasses in the water, it makes the water darker and when the water is clear again you know they are drinking, have also used food coloring. We have Nelsons that were here when we purchased, they are about 10 years old and parts are still available although thank goodness we have not needed them!!

Jul. 26, 2009, 07:53 PM
Another vote for the Nelsons. I've had mine (the metal balance kind) for over 10 years without any problems. Horse kicked one of mine too. Dented the housing, but it still works fine.

Jul. 26, 2009, 09:17 PM
FWIW, you can find most parts for the waterers at any plumbing or large hardware store like Home Depot. I get valves, etc there and keep them in the barn tool box as a just in case. The first year with mine it took a few hose replacements inside the units that I had configured a tad too close to the heating element and they melted. :eek: :lol: Woops. :winkgrin: Small repairs from human stupidity are quick and easy though...I can take mine completely apart and put it back together with repairs done in about 15 minutes. However the only repairs I've needed were from my own mistakes and not from the units themselves.
I've seen them take double barrel kicks an have small dents in the housing and work 100% fine. A friend of mine has tons of them on his dairy farm and the newest ones are about 20-25 years old. They all work 100%.

Aug. 25, 2009, 08:49 PM
I have had my Nelson's for four years. Lately, they have been driving me nuts. Sometimes I can fix on my own, but othertimes I get so frustrated I need to call a plumber. They just overflow or leak too easily. I would still do it again, just maybe have a different plumber install them.

Aug. 25, 2009, 09:26 PM
Dripping or not shutting off entirely?
If so, you have shmatz stuck in them.
It's pretty easy to clean out. Just 2 tools and about 10 minutes.
1) Shut off water to waterer at valve under unit
2) Remove lid and bowl
3) Remove cotter pin from bar under balance cage
4) Slide bar out
5) Lift entire balance cage (bowl holder) out of unit
6) On the flat beam there is a large brass nut surrounding a white plastic valve with a "button" on top of it. Unscrew that nut and let white plastic valve drop down...also make sure to unhook plastic tie holder from spout
7) Lift out the white plastic valve, it comes up with the large water hose on one end and the spout on the other
8) Bottom of valve has a plastic screw off bottom. Unscrew this and remov, check for debris on it. Remove spring with it and wipe clean of debris.
9) Using needlenose pliers, remove the interior round circle. It has a long top to it that forms the water flow "button." Check that for even the tiniest bits of dirt or debris and wipe clean.
10) Wipe out inside of plastic valve and blow through it to clear any left over dirt.
11) Replace circular insert, spring and bottom, screw back on firmly but don't overtighten
12) Turn water to unit back on. Press down button on top, water will shoot out of spout so have bowl or bucket handy. Release button and then place thumb firmly over the tip of the spout and count to 20 slowly. If no water tries squirting out of the sides, relase thumb and watch for another count of 20. If no drips, re-assemble it. If it still drips, turn water back off, unscrew the bottom and clean it out again because you missed something.
13) make sure when re-assembling that you replace that large black water hose exactly how it was before you took it apart. You want to make sure it's not touching the heating element, or else in winter the heater will melt a hole in the hose.

And if you want to change how fast or slow the bowl refills to, before you put the balance cage back on, check the bottom center of the cage. There's a short screw there. The more you unscrew it, the faster/harder the water will refill the bowl. The more you screw it in, the slower the bowl refills. That screw presses the release button on the white plastic valve.

And to change the level of water the bowl refills to, on the front of the balance cage is a screw holding the large lead counter-weight on. You can adjust the height the bowl refills to by changing how far that lead weight stays from the cage. The closer to the cage/more screwed in it is, the lower the bowl fills. I keep mine so it fills fast and about 2/3 up the side of the bowl. That way no matter how fast my horses drink, they can't empty that bowl since it starts filling before they can drink it dry and fills faster than they can drink.

Hope this helps.

Aug. 26, 2009, 11:45 AM
Barn building in aiken and wondering about the nelsons for in the barn and outside waterers.

Do I need the heater for in the barn?

For outside, does the water in the bowl get warm sitting in the sun, discouraging a horse to drink?
A livestock tank, might not get as hot...wondering opinions on this issue, thanks.

Aug. 26, 2009, 01:43 PM
The water in an outsided one does get warm in the sun, it's a metal bowl with only about 1/2 gallon of water in it so it heats through. But...after one big sip the bowl will automatically start refilling with cool water.
You can either put it in a shady spot, put it in a run in or a lot of people around here put their outside waterer in the fenceline (so it can serve two paddocks) and then extend the height of the post on either side of it and put a small peaked wishing well type roof over it. Keeps it shaded. :winkgrin:
A livestock tank will get just as hot on the surface as a waterer will. The difference between the two is that a horse can splash the water in the trough to help mix the hot surface water with the cooler water below that and with a waterer they drink the top inch off and it starts cooling off with the new water coming in. But there are easy ways to put a roof over it...if I had a stock tank I'd roof that too.
I'm in New England...so not sure how cold your winters are there in Aiken. If it does get below freezing in your barn, get the ones with heaters. Otherwise your water lines will freeze and expand in or under the unit and split them...when it thaws it will spray all over. And they don't work frozen. If your water buckets freeze, your waterers can.
Or...you can always have a main shut off for the line to the waterers inside and just drain them in winter and leave them on lock...then use buckets instead. That way you don't need the heaters. Saves a bit per unit.
Another plus about the waterers is that they work without electricity. (heaters need electricity, the water flow doesn't though) So if you lose power they'll still work. Unless you have a well, then the well pump stops so no water anyways. City water and they still work. And if you have a generator for your well pump, the Nelsons still work.

Aug. 26, 2009, 02:08 PM
Love auto waters in paddocks but hate them in stalls especially during summer storms when we regularly lose electricity for several hours at a time, sometimes even days. At least with 2 buckets in a stall you have water available until electric is restored or you get generator running.

Aug. 26, 2009, 04:07 PM
wow misty blue...I think Nelson should hire you or at least give you a commission!

I think I am forgoing the auto waterers in the field...too hot. I will just put in a frost free hydrant near the 100 gallon livestock tank and fill it.

Inside the stalls I am going with the nelsons. I am printing out MB's instructions so I will have them handy. thank you.

Aug. 26, 2009, 04:12 PM
Am I the only one who doesn't like the idea of auto-waterers?

Maybe it's just me, but I like to know exactly how much a horse is drinking when in the stall...that's one of the first signs I've gotten when a horse isn't feeling well.

I would be pretty hesitant to use auto waterers for that reason.

Aug. 27, 2009, 09:41 PM
But, but, but, Nelsons are $475 EACH!!! Uninstalled!!!