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Desperate to prevent ice in buckets

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  • Desperate to prevent ice in buckets

    Alrighty, I'm taking care of 19 horses right now and temps this week are not getting above 8. The horses go out during the day with a heated trough (which STILL can't keep the ice out) and are in at night. Buckets freeze even if the horses are left in despite being filled with hot water, when they go out I get 2 - 4 inches of ice which I spend over an hour beating out with a crowbar. Barn can't handle bucket heaters and the buckets are in permanent bucket holders so I can't swap them out for insulated bucket holders, and a bucket cozy is too expensive at this time.

    Can I add something to the water to keep it from freezing? Something along the same concept as antifreeze for cars?
    http://weanieeventer.blogspot.com/

  • #2
    Originally posted by enjoytheride View Post
    Alrighty, I'm taking care of 19 horses right now and temps this week are not getting above 8. The horses go out during the day with a heated trough (which STILL can't keep the ice out) and are in at night. Buckets freeze even if the horses are left in despite being filled with hot water, when they go out I get 2 - 4 inches of ice which I spend over an hour beating out with a crowbar. Barn can't handle bucket heaters and the buckets are in permanent bucket holders so I can't swap them out for insulated bucket holders, and a bucket cozy is too expensive at this time.

    Can I add something to the water to keep it from freezing? Something along the same concept as antifreeze for cars?
    Well sure, you can add vodka or salt to the tap water and then it won't freeze, but the horses won't be drinking it either.

    Is the barn being sealed up? All of the barns in my area, from large 40+ horse operations to my own little three staller, stay just above freezing most of the time with all the heat from the horses. There may be a skim of ice on the very coldest days (and we're experiencing the exact same cold you are) but never 2-4 inches.

    Filling them with hot water and then topping off with hot water around 10 or 11pm should at least keep the ice down. Sounds like they're being filled at turn-in and then nothing more?

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    • #3
      Nothing that I know of is safe to add to drinking water.

      The buckets in my little three stall / 2 horse barn are freezing with temps in this area running between 0 and 20 overnight. I have the black Forteflex buckets. Every morning I turn them upside down on a black stall mat that sits outside in the sun all day. By evening, I can stomp on the buckets to pop the ice out, but many times passive solar heating has solved the problem for me.

      It would be nice if the horses had free water all night long, that is not happening in this weather. I give a small amount of electrolytes with their AM feed and make sure the outside tank is warm and full. So far we are all managing.

      *star*
      Last edited by ShotenStar; Jan. 26, 2014, 06:04 PM.
      "Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit."
      - Desiderata, (c) Max Ehrman, 1926

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      • #4
        With the goats, I gave up on plastic buckets and got the heavy rubber ones. They won't NOT freeze eventually, but they last a lot longer and only slowly crust over instead of turning solid and cracking. I don't leave them out overnight (I still have to bring them in to thaw) but they have water pretty much all day.
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        • Original Poster

          #5
          It's a big barn with an attached indoor so no it doesn't stay above freezing. I wish. With temps here at -3 for the high not even close. The stock tank outside is covered in ice except in a foot wide circle around the de icer and I've NEVER seen that.

          I don't have anyone who can dump buckets in the morning so they sit during the day but they still get ice covered even if the horses stay in.

          Buckets are filled at turn in and that's it. Most of the horses drain their buckets overnight but a few are picky drinkers and I'll have 5 gallons of ice when I do evening feed. I'm able to rotate the worst buckets into the tackroom overnight to thaw but I don't have the room or the spare buckets to do all of them.

          Someone on my FB feed suggested adding apple cider vinegar to the water.
          http://weanieeventer.blogspot.com/

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          • #6
            I feel your pain. But...you know that hot water can freeze faster than lukewarm water, right? So I go out about 10:30 and top everyone's water off with hot water (which is warmish once it mixes with the water in the bucket).

            It does freeze at night, so bright and early I am out there with fresh water. I do have a hot water tap outside the house (not barn, so some hauling required) so I can rinse out the icy buckets then fill with half cold and half hot water.

            I have rubber buckets and the ones you plug in (except in my barn where there is not yet an outlet) and have not noticed any difference in which freezes first. They freeze.

            And it is not so fun to beat out the ice.

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            • #7
              Hot water does freeze faster than cold water. Your best bet is to use only cold water.
              Show me your horse and I will tell you who you are.

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              • #8
                I wouldn't add anything to the water. Sounds like they have water all day in turnout and then for at least several hours in the evening. Are you worried about the horses getting enough water, or is it just that it's hard to get the ice out of the buckets?

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by enjoytheride View Post
                  It's a big barn with an attached indoor so no it doesn't stay above freezing. I wish. With temps here at -3 for the high not even close. The stock tank outside is covered in ice except in a foot wide circle around the de icer and I've NEVER seen that.

                  I don't have anyone who can dump buckets in the morning so they sit during the day but they still get ice covered even if the horses stay in.

                  Buckets are filled at turn in and that's it. Most of the horses drain their buckets overnight but a few are picky drinkers and I'll have 5 gallons of ice when I do evening feed. I'm able to rotate the worst buckets into the tackroom overnight to thaw but I don't have the room or the spare buckets to do all of them.

                  Someone on my FB feed suggested adding apple cider vinegar to the water.
                  Sounds like the de-icer in the tank needs replacing. I am in Illinois and having the same weather you are and we have yet to have our tank freeze. I use a sinkable de-icer with the cage around it. Cord is in a pipe almost down to the de-icer so the horses can't grab it unless the tank gets really empty or they stick their heads all the way down...I have only ever had one horse try that one, a real stinker.
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                  • #10
                    Best cozy for bucket and best insulated buckets????

                    So my question is which is the best "cozy" to buy for buckets? I have one friend who moved away and bought an insulated bucket for her mare to use. It's been freezing down South here this year. First time the bottom and sides of our plastic buckets have inch thick ice all around.

                    Anyone got insulated buckets or a cozy that fits around and insulates a plastic bucket? I cannot use the one heated bucket I have due to my cord eating horse (Cloudy 3, fan cords 0). I'd like to know which cordless devices work best. I have the jefferslivestock.com water heater that I put in buckets when I get to the barn to thaw the ice. But I'd like to keep everything from freezing at night.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Dressagelvr View Post
                      Hot water does freeze faster than cold water. Your best bet is to use only cold water.
                      There is some argument about this:

                      http://www.scientificamerican.com/ar...hat-hot-water/

                      ...but many horsemen agree that horses like very cold water less when they are in cold surroundings, like many of us don't like drinking cold liquids when we are cold, so it would be the lukewarm to hot water that I would be going with.
                      America dialed 911. Donald Trump answered the phone.

                      Stop pumping money into colleges and start getting ready to earn money in the projected tradesman shortage of 2024. Make Trades Great Again!

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                      • #12
                        Is there any way you could add sloppy soaked hay cubes to the horse's diet in the morning and night to increase the amount of water they take in?

                        I am currently feeding each horse 2.5 lbs of cubes soaked in 3 gallons of hot water 2x daily. They slurp it all up, and I feel better knowing they have at least consumed 6 gallons of water each day...

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by enjoytheride View Post
                          ....I don't have anyone who can dump buckets in the morning so they sit during the day but they still get ice covered even if the horses stay in.
                          If you are spending time in the evening chopping ice out of the buckets, then this may be partly a "choose your pain / time management" issue. You can spend 20-30 mins in the morning setting the buckets out in the sun to soften the ice during the day, or you can spend 20-30 mins in the evening chopping out ice. If you have barn help doing morning feed and turn out for you, you may need to ask them to start earlier / stay longer in order to get this done.

                          *star*
                          "Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit."
                          - Desiderata, (c) Max Ehrman, 1926

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                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            I'm more worried about my labor as the horses seem to be getting enough to drink, right now the morning people are mostly volunteers as my BM is out with an injury and the main one has a shoulder injury and is unable to lift the buckets out of the holders.

                            I'm only filling the buckets 1/2 way full as they don't really drink a lot of water overnight anyway.

                            So, desperate.
                            http://weanieeventer.blogspot.com/

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                            • #15
                              after the winters on the late 70s in Kentucky we moved south; minus 20F nothing would stay liquid, we didn't lose any horses but it was close and I will never be exposed to such bad conditions with livestock again

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                              • #16
                                How big are their buckets? Do you have a smaller bucket that you could put into the main water buckets of the horses who do not drink as much, and stuff straw around the little bucket?
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                                • #17
                                  Try floating some small plastic balls in the buckets?
                                  Nothing with horses is ever easy or cheap. And if it is, you're doing it wrong. They always rip out part of your soul when they leave. I guess that's how they find us later.

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                                  • #18
                                    You could try putting a bucket on the floor in a corner and stacking shavings around it. I've done that in the past with fairly good results.

                                    I have the insulated buckets from Dover, they still freeze overnight a little bit when it's around zero. I do top off buckets with hot water at 10PM when it's really cold out and they mostly do not freeze. I also feed soaked beet pulp with every meal and have heated troughs outside so mine get plenty of water.

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                                    • #19
                                      Somewhere I thought I read that if you put some hay in the water, it helps to prevent freezing? Give that a try maybe.
                                      Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.

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                                      • #20
                                        I'd try the bucket in the corner surrounded by the heap of shavings, or layers of newspaper or old paper feed bags. I've also heard that hot water freezes faster.

                                        I was googling around and supposedly vinegar and water freeze faster than just plain water too, even though white vinegar freezes at a lower temp.
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