You can use a combination of solar heat absorption and thermal mass to keep livestock water buckets from freezing in the winter. One simple and inexpensive method is insulate a water dish with a discarded tire. Stuff the interior of the tire with bubble wrap. Measure the diameter of the hole in the center of the tire, and procure a black, rubber water dish that will fit snugly into the hole. Livestock feed stores often carry multiple sizes of these dishes, and they can also be purchased online. Place a couple of bricks or blocks under the dish to create
a layer of air between the bowl and the ground, thus reducing the amount of heat that is lost via conduction. Float a few pieces of wood in the water to break up any ice that starts to form. Situate the tire and dish in bright sunlight, where the black surfaces will absorb and store solar radiation to prevent the water from freezing.
We have found that keeping our water buckets in tires has a dual purpose, not only to keep the water warm, but also to prevent our sheep and goats from damaging the buckets. We have a delightful ram with a friendly personality. But being a ram, he likes to ram things, especially his water buckets. The tire serves as a bumper to keep the buckets upright and undamaged.
Pictured above is our buck, Cassanova, with his insulated water bucket in the background.
Lisa from Fresh Eggs Daily has some great tips to keep livestock water from freezing. Click below to learn more:
How to Keep Your Chickens’ Water from Freezing…No Electricity Needed!