Livestock Water Fountains

Illustration 10: Livestock watering fountain. Source: dearbornswcd.org

Illustration 10: Livestock watering fountain. Source: dearbornswcd.org

Water is a vital input for the production of milk, beef, poultry, or in any livestock enterprise. During freezing conditions, keeping liquid water available for animals can be challenging without supplemental heat. The energy use to keep the water from freezing can range from $0 for energy-free livestock water fountains to less than $20 for a well-insulated unit with covered water and a small immersion heating element, to $80-$100 for a well-maintained open water fountain, to $200 or more for a poorly insulated unit. The cost can also vary greatly depending on how exposed the water fountain is to wind. Thermostats should be set below the ground water temperature so they will not turn on the heater when fresh water enters the water fountain but high enough to keep the water from freezing. Typically a setting between 34 and 40°F will usually work.

In the mid-1980’s new well-insulated water fountains were introduced that did not require supplemental heating provided a sufficient number of animals drank from the fountain. Tests in North Dakota and Manitoba, Canada proved these units perform even under harsh conditions (17, 18). Heat from ground water entering the fountain and ground heat funneled into the space below the water reservoir through an insulated riser pipe buried so the end is below the frost line kept the water from freezing in the water reservoir and the supply line for up to 20 hours at -4°F without animals drinking.reservoir and the supply line for up to 20 hours at -4°F without animals drinking.