I have one horse in the barn that will almost never drink from the electric bucket. I always offer two buckets in the stall. One electric and one regular. I will put one hand in the water and the other on the metal stall door and I don't feel a thing. It bugs me that they prefer ice cold water.
I've thought about taking out the regular bucket but I don't want them not drinking at all.
Ok. I'll take the unheated bucket out and try the heated one unplugged for a bit.
One question, does anyone know what happens if the horse drinks down the heated bucket while plugged in? Does an empty bucket continue to heat? I'd imagine it would but is this dangerous in any way? I have such a weird phobia about things plugged in in the barn anyway.
Maybe try the heated bucket that has the heating element built inside the walls of the bucket. Nothing exposed so no chance of any current getting in the water. They have built-in thermostats to shut them down if the temps get warm or the bucket goes empty.
I've been using the same type of thing only in the larger muck-bucket size, and they're wonderful and very durable. Been using the same ones for over 10 years now.
As for water temp, as LauraKY mentioned, I read about the same study that horses PREFER to drink cold water, but will drink MORE if the water is warm. I found that very interesting.
Here's an excerpt about it I found online:
"Dr. Sue McDonnell of the University of Pennsylvania conducted a scientific study that revealed that as a first choice horses would drink the coldest water that was available to them. However, she also found that if warm water was the only source available, they would drink a greater volume of warm water per day than cold water. Therefore, to increase water consumption, you should put warm water only in with your horse without any cold water."
Check your local tack/feed stores for those heated buckets I mentioned above. I know TSC carries them (both the bucket and larger ones like I have). They run about $35 or so, but I've started seeing them being put on sale. Valley Vet carries them too.
My guy is just the opposite. Even when the heated bucket is not plugged in, he will drain it before he touches the unheated bucket. In his case, I think it is a plastic (heated) vs. rubber (unheated) bucket issue. I've found that a lot of horses don't like to drink out of the black rubber buckets - they must hold unpleasant scents or flavors longer than the plastic buckets or something.
I have a horse who will not drink out of a heated bucket. THere's nothing with the bucket as another horse is using it successfully. But I think he is an ULTRA sensitive horse. We just use cold buckets and crack the ice when it does appear.
Too bad, heated buckets are great. The other horse will drink this heated bucket down each night. I give him three buckets of water; one heated water bucket for drinking, one not heated for drinking and one for dunking his hay. (What an icy mess that dunking bucket is.)
Basically, I just do whatever my horse tells me to do. In this one horse's case, he does not want a heated bucket. So he has two cold water buckets.
Sorry! But that barn smell is my aromatherapy!
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PA, where the State motto is: "If it makes sense, we don't do it!".
I would suggest using the product Leather suggested and adding hot water to it at feeding time, if you can. That's the time when horses drink the most water (right after eating).
Heated water buckets sound good in theory but they have a thermostat in there that kicks on and off. The water has to get really cold before the heating coil kicks on--if the heater kicks on when the horse is not inclined to drink then it's a waste of energy!
Adding a product like Tractgard, or magnesium oxide to your horse's diet also during the Winter will help keep the horse from becoming impacted.