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Winter Horse Water Needs
 By Winniefield Park   •   14th Feb 2018   •   686 views   •   0 comments


There is a lot of information online about how to make sure your horse gets enough water during the winter time. Some of it works, some does not.

Take This With a Grain of Salt
Frozen water troughs are a pain during the cold weather. And there are a number of ways to keep the water from freezing and drinkable for your horse. The most effective involve some sort of heater. These are usually plugged into an electrical outlet. That means you need a few things. First, you need some money. You need to buy a heater, perhaps a heavy duty extension cord, have a proper outdoor electrical outlet and of course electricity. But why buy all this stuff when a simple bottle of salt water will prevent your horseís water trough from freezing over? We all know that salt lowers the freezing point of water. Thatís why itís spread on roads to prevent them from icing over, and why the ocean in the far north can actually be a few degrees colder than the point of freezing and not freeze over. But, we also know that horses canít drink salt water.

So, how can we use the knowledge that salt water doesnít freeze over when the temperatures dip below freezing without actually serving our horses salt water? Maybe put the salt water in a bottle!? Then float the salt water in the trough. The bottled salt water will help keep the water around it from freezing. Sounds simple and certainly economical. Problem is, the salt water in the bottle will not actually be warmer than the surrounding water. The salt will just keep it from freezing until it hits a lower temperature -
about 4 degrees colder than it normally would. So, the trough water is going to freeze anyway. What might happen, if it doesnít get too cold, is the bottle will bob around a bit, breaking up the skim of ice that will form on the surface of the water. You can get the same effect with a ball, or jug partially full of plain water to float around in there. Every time the breeze blows the object, or a horse noses it, it will break up the ice a bit. Until it gets really cold. Then youíll have a solid block of ice with a ball frozen in it.

Mashes
The thought of a warm bowl of oatmeal on a frigid winter morning is comforting. Our horses might enjoy something similar and it can help get some moisture into them too, right? Well, not quite. Bran mash may not be a good choice at all. And any other type of mash, like soaked beet pulp, might not add much to the total water consumption of your horse. Your hores is going to need something like five to 10 gallons (18 to 37 liters) of water every day, depending on its size and activity level, the air temperature and humidity. The maximum amount of feed, other than hay, you should give your horse at any one time is about six pounds (2.72 kg). Youíll probably feed about a pound and a half (.7 kg) of beet pulp. If you feed a beet pulp mash, youíre going to add water at a ratio of 2 or 4 times amount of beet pulp. This means your horse is getting less than half a gallon of water with each feed, which is far short of the recommended daily amount. So you may not be able to count on feeding mashes to get any significant amount of water into your horse.

So what does work? Those darn money eating water heaters are the most reliable way of making sure your horse has drinking water in the frigid weather. Heated buckets are an option too. Floating things in your trough might work while itís still not too cold. And insulating your trough or waterer will too. Surrounding the trough with black plastic or outdoor fabric might help too. Place the trough out of the wind and where it will catch what little sun might shine. You could also try going solar to make your trough heater run off-grid. Solar panels donít cost an arm and a leg anymore.

Do you contend with freezing water troughs? Whatís the best solution youíve found?
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