Keeping Water Warm in Winter: Readers Share Tips

Nearly 900 readers of TheHorse.com responded to a poll asking, " How do you keep your horses' water in the barn from freezing during the winter?"

 

results of poll on foaling complications

Results were as follows: 

  • Heated buckets: 42.27% (372)
  • Change water in the buckets frequently: 32.50% (286)
  • I don't keep horses in the barn during the winter : 25.91% (228)
  • Heated automatic waterers: 17.50% (154)
  • Heat the barn: 5.00% (44)

(Multiple selections were allowed)

Readers shared their tips for keeping water warm in the comments below.

Results of weekly polls from TheHorse.com are published in The Horse Health E-Newsletter. Published every week, this e-newsletter offers news on diseases, veterinary research, health events, and in-depth articles on common equine health conditions and what you can do to recognize, avoid, or treat them. Sign up for our e-newsletters using the form above or on our e-newsletter page.  

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  • Too many risks with heater elements
  • also insulate water tanks and keep them under shelter 
  • Here in central Arizona water freezing is not an issue
  • Horses are on 24hr turnout. 
  • I use warm water in the buckets in the evening.
  • tank heaters and de-icers for outdoor water
  • Barn only is heated to 40 F when below freezing
  • Have thermal insulated buckets and fill frequently with warm water. They wait for it. 
  • run in shelters w/heater in stock tank 
  • When it's really cold I put an apple in the water. He plays apple bobbing and ice doesn't form.
  • Insulated Bucket Holder
  • I use water heaters/buckets in the fields
  • Freezing not a problem in Phoenix, AZ deserts except 1-2 nites a year
  • Water trough heaters and turnout with stall access 24/7.
  • special buckets that promote keeping water unfrozen
  • Thick rubber buckets (the black ones) and add hot water
  • Nelson Automatic waterer...best thing we ever bought for the farm !!! Happy customer in New York.
  • My barn stays above freezing most of the Winter and I add warm water on cold night.
  • I've used propane water tank heaters for years and notice my horses drink more & don't colic.
  • The heated buckets are great since my horses are in and out 
  • trough heater in barn 2 sets of buckets 4 stalls. "off" buckets in heated porch to thaw
  • The horses keep the barn warm enought to keep the water from freezing.I also add hot water whencold
  • The water is outside, but we change it out every other day, and the heater keeps it from freezing.
  • Insulated barn and heat from the horse kepps the water from frezzing.
  • live in NM
  • I use a deicer in the water trough. They have access to stalls 24/7
  • My barn is insulated and they don't freeze
  • I don't keep horses stalled, but have a flating tank de-icer in a 40-gallon tub. 
  • Horses are outside most of the time. Come in at night or during inclement weather.
  • 100 gal heated tank
  • our horses are outside most of the time, If they have to be in, we change water frequently
  • I add warm water to the buckets and also use insulated (non-electric) buckets
  • Love our heated buckets & keeps the horses drinking during freezing weather.
  • Stock tank heater
  • just live in the south!
  • water tank heater
  • I have a water trough heater
  • tank heaters
  • They are free to go in and out during the winter on there own, and the horse tank has a water heater
  • Thermal buckets -- with plastic disks in the top
  • I only keep my horses in the barn at night so a heated water bucket lasts all night.
  • Don't have a barn. Use shelter shed, remove ice as needed; horses drink all they need.
  • I keep horses in as little as possible, but use heated buckets at those times.
  • My horses range free in pasture. They go in a barn in severe weather; 25 gallon tubs are heated.
  • also add warm water to each bucket
  • for outside, I change buckets frequently
  • Penned for feeding then turned out. Break any ice on troughs every morning while horses are eating.
  • I live in Louisiana. We don't have very many days that are freezing.
  • I use a tank heater in a 100 gallon water tank -it works good
  • I insulate the barn automatic waterers and have a heating element for the outdoor tub
  • We also add hot water to the buckets at night
  • I am fortunate to have heated auto warerers inside & out.worth every penny & less problems
  • Floating de-icers in the stock tanks
  • Free choice ice free water is the only option for a healthy horse.
  • none of the above.SELTZER water 1 liter bottle when it is really cold, works the best.
  • I also haul warm water in jugs from the house to break the ice up and then remove the ice by hand
  • We move from Iowa to South Texas in November and return to Iowa in May
  • Have a "heater" that goes in the water from freezing in the cold weather
  • Our horses have a run attached to their barn stall. We keep heaters in the 100 gal tanks
  • Insulated & heated water line above stalls
  • The stable where my horses are boarded outdoors has heated automatic waterers.
  • tank de icer
  • Heated water tanks
  • I have a military immersion heater in the big tank
  • I use water heaters in all water buckets and barrels
  • fill buckets w/warm water AM & PM
  • I add hot water at night. It helps,but water still has ice by morning.
  • Horses are outside w/heated water tanks. 
  • My horses are outside 24/7 with shelters in each paddock and 100 gallon water tanks with heaters
  • Have a hot water heater in the barn, I add hot water to icy buckets. Works great.
  • In California almost never freezes that long
  • I uses plug-in water heaters in the troughs.
  • I moved to California
  • Water 1X daily with warmer water, heated water tank outside thru day 
  • I use insulated bucket holders, and alway give them warm water
  • I aso use heated buckets/bowls for the barn cats & dog.
  • use insulated buckets, change water 2-3 times daily
  • Heated buckets cause death in horses, just happened to a friend
  • Horses have two buckets, one heated and one insulated
  • Not a problem where I live--coastal No. California
  • we add warm water to top off
  • We use insulated buckets, add hot water twice a day, and the water stays warm all day/night.
  • they go in thru a hole in the bottom of the trough. portect the wire by putting it thru a pvc pipe
  • But was do have heated auto waterers in the pastures.
  • I don't have a barn, but rather a three sided run-in shed. My water troughs are outside w/heaters.
  • I use a stock tank defroster.
  • LOVE IT! - Nelson Waterer!
  • In Michigan you need to be able to add warm water to buckets several times a day.
  • I also have a heater in their outdoor water tub.
  • stock tank heaters
  • Use heaters that fit in drain plug of stock tank to keep water thawed.
  • WATER COMES OUT OF THE GROUND AT 72 DEGREES HERE IN FL
  • I also have a hammer nearby to break the ice off the top if needed No electricity in the barn
  • large heated tub outside
  • 2 horses get fresh luke warm water from the house morning and night.
  • Use a tank heater on outdoor tank
  • Heaters in Water Tanks outside.
  • Heated buckets save the day!
  • When night temps hit 40 degrees I turn on the heated buckets so my horses drink lots more water.
  • insulated water bucket holders
  • I have a 100 gallon trough which I insulate and keep a 1200 watt heater in it. It works down to -40C
  • Insulated water buckets and warmed water
  • Carry hot water to the barn morning, noon and night.
  • None of these. Barn temp stays above freezing - 80 yr old barn, heavy timbers PM
  • Water tank heaters
  • a leather basketball or volleyball works well too
  • We keep heat lamps on for several hours in the evening and again early morning
  • It is warm enough in my area to keep horse in the pasture with their shelters - I haul water t them
  • add hot water
  • I moved South so I don't have to worry about frozen buckets anymore.
  • Not really heated buckets, but a heater in the water trough.
  • and use a tank de-icer for the trough
  • I live in Florida!!
  • Don't trust deicers; manually remove ice in pasture troughs, use Wild Angel bucket cozy in shelters
  • We bring hot water down to the barn when horses need to be in due to severe weather.
  • Thermal Buckets
  • My Nelson waterers were worth every penny. One is over 20 yrs old & require little maintenance
  • Stock tank heater
  • stock tank heaters
  • Worth every penny in cold climates!
  • Also add hot water to the buckets
  • Heated outside water tub along w/ hot water "soup" for my TB's!
  • Tank heater in the water tank. 24/7
  • They're in stalls for breakfast and dinner, otherwise outside with geothermal waterers.
  • live in the South!
  • I use a heater in a large outdoor trough and a 16 gal. heated bucket.
  • I have a hot water heater in the barn and I give my horse warm water in the winter. He loves it
  • I live in a warm place that hardly ever freezes
  • Horses outside 24/7, running creeks or smash ice on stock tanks w/ hammer : )
  • heater in bottom of tank
  • have heating elements in troughs, will get heated outdoor waterers
  • outdoors we use a drain plug deicer. If they stay in (which is rare) we crack and refill
  • Live in California!
  • Horses have large tanks--some with heaters
  • We have a small water heater in the feed room. Change buckets 3 -4 times daily.
  • but I keep deicers in the outside water tub
  • Not in the barn unless nasty weather
  • heated 70 gal tub actually, accesible under overhang of both stalls
  • A small pan with a bird bath feeder and $15.00 automatic watering device. Easy and cheap.
  • styrofoam insulated buckets
  • Deicers in buckets and tanks. 
  • we also have a few insulated buckets that worked out well last winter
  • I don't really heat the barn just keep it closed up tight.
  • heater installed to the side of my 100 gallon tank. get it at TSC, wonderful.
  • I have tank heaters
  • geothermal waterers
  • Love the heated buckets, best invention for winter watering
  • I bought Bucket cozys this year. Heard they are awesome
  • Two years of dragging hoses was enough!
  • pipe insulation
  • Also have a heated trough in the large paddock
  • Use a stock tank heater
  • Horses get hot water at 9-10PM, 2nd hot coffee pot full at 1-2AM. Then out at 7AM.
  • With heated tank for outside 
  • All outside water has automatic heaters
  • Move South for the winter!! 
  • All water troughs have heaters, pasture and barn
  • Heat tape on outdoor faucet works in addition draining hoses.
  • I have a large heated bucket outside.
  • Am in Canada -40C some winters htd buckets awesome: Sandi
  • We use heat lights in the stalls when the weather is freezing. It seems to help keep buckets from fr
  • I dont. I refresh the buckets (often) with hot water
  • nelson waterers
  • Heated buckets and trough heaters
  • i LOVE my heated buckets
  • In Australia's warm climate, most equines stay outdoors during winter.

 

     

About the Author

Erica Larson, News Editor

Erica Larson, news editor, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in three-day eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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