How to stop water troughs & buckets from freezing..

When the temperature drops to below freezing, breaking ice on water buckets can be a never ending job. Here are a few tips from animal owners living in much colder climates than ours….

1 – Use a rubber water container as metal will make the water freeze even quicker.

2 – Surround your water container with an old tyre to add extra insulation.

3 – Provide a large amount of water – a small bowl will freeze much more quickly than a large bucket. For large animals, use a large rubber feed trough, not a standard bucket.

4 – during the day, place your animals’ water in full sun so it gets as much warmth as possible.

Make a float to slow ice formation:

  • Find an old plastic drink bottle with lid (like a fizzy drink bottle)
  • Fill it with water and a cup of salt. The added salt will stop the water from freezing inside the bottle. (note – the salt is only in the bottle, not in your animals’ water!)
  • Now float this bottle in your animal’s water trough. As the water inside the bottle is less likely to freeze it will move around and blow in the breeze, helping to prevent your animals water from freezing too!

Extra ideas for hen keepers…

  • Use an old window/ sturdy piece of glass to set up a sun trap. Place the water behind the glass to direct the sun’s rays onto the water, like a green house. This would also make a great place for chickens to shelter behind and warm up.
  • Most hens won’t drink water overnight. At bed time, tip the water away and give them fresh in the morning. If you leave the water overnight and break up the ice in the morning it will soon refreeze on a cold day. It is far better to start the day with fresh water that will take longer to freeze.

Extra ideas for horses & grazing stock…

It has to be unusually cold in the UK for water to freeze in stables overnight. But when this is the case, you could try making an insulated bucket.

  • Fill your standard plastic bucket with water, as usual.
  • Place the water bucket inside a larger bucket, or trug.
  • fill the space between the buckets with straw or shavings to create an insulating layer around the water bucket to help prevent it from freezing.

Want more advice for winter?

Read our ‘How to keep your animals warm’ blog here