Prepping livestock watering systems for winter

Water is the most important nutrient for overall cattle health and production. They consume one-to-two gallons of water per 100-pounds of body weight. So, a 1200-pound cow would need 12 gallons of water every day. Chewing on ice and snow doesn’t count so be sure your watering systems are ready for winter.

Brad White is a professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University, and director of the Beef Cattle Institute. He says to consider the size of your tank to keep the water flowing.

"When I’m thinking smaller tank, often, those are the ones that have some sort of freeze-proof control mechanism. So, they may either be buried under ground or you can use electricity to keep them in place," says White. "Our larger tanks, the freeze-proof mechanisms differ a little bit in that we may be using an overflow system of some sort. But, your bigger tank has more surface area across the top."

And more surface area means it can freeze a lot faster especially in a pasture situation if cattle have to walk a distance to get to the water. He says you may need other freeze-proof mechanisms to keep these tanks open. 

"You can have it under ground, you can have electricity that keeps it heated. You can also use a combination of those or a ball waterer. There’s a ball that stays in the top and floats to the top, and then the cattle push it back down to get a drink," he says. "All of those can be very effective and which one you pick depends a lot on your situation and whether or not you have the capability to put some of those in place."

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