Best Freeze-Proof Water Trough for Central Texas

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rocfarm

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Had a question about setting up a winterized/freeze proof water trough in central Texas.

Both my tanks have gone dry. Have installed multiple water troughs but didn't think the creek to my main tank would still be dry during the winter months (never not been running during November), so was planning on just turning the water troughs off during the coldest months.

If we don't get enough rain to start the creek running, I'm worried that I'll need to have at least one water trough with a heater in case of a freezemageddon like we had a few years ago. I do go weeks at a time without seeing the cows. Had folks say that they've never used heaters in central Texas, and, don't worry about it because the freeze won't last that long and the cows should be fine, especially if there's snow, they can just eat that.

But the internet info is a bit mixed.

Question: What is the cheapest reliable way to have a freeze-proof water trough suited to central Texas weather conditions?

BTW, I have 1" PEX pipe buried in the ground and use all brass fittings, caged floats, etc. So the equipment is already as sturdy as possible. Just want to know an affordable way to make sure liquid water is available for the cattle in cold conditions.
 
I dont think all that is necessary. In the rare cases of a freeze like that we just ran the pumps. Have an over flow off the trough and a valve to bypass the float and let it go.

A line to a hole or one of the dry tanks and let it go nonstop would be good also.

The biggest problem in the rare instance of a freeze like that was losing power. That's where flowing to an open pond or some thing of that nature will pay off.
 
Even when everything froze I was able to go out with a hammer and break the ice over the top on the regular poly tanks from tractor supply. If you don't have the cows nearby that might not be an option for you but if you do I wouldn't worry too much.

Edit: I am assuming there are enough troughs that would have water to last a couple days. I was able to shut off the well and spread them across the troughs but that may not be the case
 
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Even when everything froze I was able to go out with a hammer and break the ice over the top on the regular poly tanks from tractor supply. If you don't have the cows nearby that might not be an option for you but if you do I wouldn't worry too much.

Edit: I am assuming there are enough troughs that would have water to last a couple days. I was able to shut off the well and spread them across the troughs but that may not be the case

Same here. We chopped the top layer with an axe.
 
Up here in MN freezing waterers is just a price of raising cattle. As you mentioned -- if there is snow -- cattle will eat that. I have cows that are too lazy to walk the extra 100 feet to the waterer and will eat snow instead.

Also as mentioned -- sometimes just allowing for the valve to drip/trickle is enough to prevent freeze up. I have a waterer that has the water connection and valve at the bottom of the trough. Even if the water freezes at the top the valve doesn't freeze. And midday sun/cows will get the ice broken enough to drink. This works pretty much until temps fall below 0 degrees (unless it's really windy).
 
Had a question about setting up a winterized/freeze proof water trough in central Texas.

Both my tanks have gone dry. Have installed multiple water troughs but didn't think the creek to my main tank would still be dry during the winter months (never not been running during November), so was planning on just turning the water troughs off during the coldest months.

If we don't get enough rain to start the creek running, I'm worried that I'll need to have at least one water trough with a heater in case of a freezemageddon like we had a few years ago. I do go weeks at a time without seeing the cows. Had folks say that they've never used heaters in central Texas, and, don't worry about it because the freeze won't last that long and the cows should be fine, especially if there's snow, they can just eat that.

But the internet info is a bit mixed.

Question: What is the cheapest reliable way to have a freeze-proof water trough suited to central Texas weather conditions?

BTW, I have 1" PEX pipe buried in the ground and use all brass fittings, caged floats, etc. So the equipment is already as sturdy as possible. Just want to know an affordable way to make sure liquid water is available for the cattle in cold conditions.
In Arkansas I built a "greenhouse" to contain the biggest portion of a long oval tank. I left one end out far enough that cattle could drink and here was no reason for any kind of electricity. The solar gain kept the water inside the structure from freezing and the warm water inside kept the exposed water from freezing.
 
Thanks, Everyone!

I think I'm going to buy a piece of plexiglass to try the greenhouse effect on one water trough and then leave another one with a constant slight flow if cold weather hits.

That way no need to buy a heater.
 
Thanks, Everyone!

I think I'm going to buy a piece of plexiglass to try the greenhouse effect on one water trough and then leave another one with a constant slight flow if cold weather hits.

That way no need to buy a heater.
Oh... I don't think anyone mentioned one of those floating electric heaters. I've used them too, and they work fine.
 
Oh... I don't think anyone mentioned one of those floating electric heaters. I've used them too, and they work fine.
Yeah. I could just put a trough next to the well housing, plug in a heater, and go with that. Problem is that I'd rather not spend the money on a once-in-a-20-year problem. trying to go cheaper. But may change my mind.

Will post a pic of the final solution.
 
I think being where you are if you'll make sure your plumbing is insulated and use a big trough. I don't understand folks using those little 50 gallon trough. Several hundred gallons takes longer and colder to freeze. Set your valve to allow just a small stream when float is open. Taking more time to fill means more time of moving water. Plus if something does break not near the loss of water.i keep a rubber ball in mine, soccer ball sized. So I can check water level from a distance. It seems to help with freezing as well. Moving about I guess. Most of your troubles in a historical freeze like a couple of years ago will come from frozen plumbing and electric grid being down.
 
I think being where you are if you'll make sure your plumbing is insulated and use a big trough. I don't understand folks using those little 50 gallon trough. Several hundred gallons takes longer and colder to freeze. Set your valve to allow just a small stream when float is open. Taking more time to fill means more time of moving water. Plus if something does break not near the loss of water.i keep a rubber ball in mine, soccer ball sized. So I can check water level from a distance. It seems to help with freezing as well. Moving about I guess. Most of your troubles in a historical freeze like a couple of years ago will come from frozen plumbing and electric grid being down.
This isn't really related to freezing but we prefer a float valve that puts out alot of water and fills the trough quickly because all the well guys say it's easier on the pumps and whatnot. Keeps them from cutting on and off so much.
 
That's why I would not trickle water in a freeze if you are on a well and pressure tank. I would much rather the pump run ron-stop for 3 or 4 days that click on and off. "Dripping" is not enough, IMO.

Plus, if you lose electricity and the pipes are open they tend to no break as often.

If I remember correctly all our solar wells stayed working during the freeze.

I agree 100% with Fence. I've never understood small troughs for all kinds of reasons. The difference between a 1000g poly and 200g poly is not enough to justify the hassle of the small trough. Can't tell you how many people have to me, but I'm on a well. 🙄 They act like their well never goes out. Right now any water well person is several days out and pumps have been hard to get in some cases also if you have slim holes or any thing not pretty standard.
 

I been using a homemade version of this so far good to -15c but there are only 6 head drinking, when the rest are home and drinking hopefully it works to -25 - 30c.
 
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In our climate here, a 7 to 8 foot diameter concrete trough (we call them tanks) fed from underneath with the Jobe valve in the bottom center inside of the trough with a good string connecting to the plastic float seems to work well for a little cold weather. Seems like most freezing is in the pipe and float exposed to cold air. Plastic tank will freeze before concrete. Plenty of water volume, lots of thermal mass in the tank side walls, all piping buried, and valve in the bottom of the tank is about as good as needed here. If the surface freezes, cows will break the ice or the afternoon sun warmup will melt it. But I would always be nervous about going weeks without checking. Float can fail, well can run dry, cows can jump in the tank and break something. We rarely get below 10-15 degrees here.
 
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We used the simple approach during the last big freeze. We were lucky to not loose power though. We just put a 3/8 fuel hose about 10 foot long to syphon a little water out and keep the float running.
Wouldn't have thought of that, either. Have a slope by one trough. Might try to build a small retaining pond at its base and then use this method. I think I have some 3/4 pex lying around as well as an old valve shutoff valve I can use to regulate it.
 
Some guys here used to use a 100 lb propane tank filled with air. Regulate the flow way down and run an air line weighted along the bottom so bubbles would keep open the parts of the trough they needed open.
 
I remember the 3 week central Texas freeze of the 1980s. First it snowed a few inches then an ice storm froze it over and the temp stayed in the low teens for weeks. All hoses and pipes froze and the electricity out. My cowboy friend (now husband) would go out on his tractor with an ax several times a day to the troughs which were quickly sucked dry and then to the tanks (ponds) with his ax.

At my place I would ax the troughs, the horses would drink it down then I'd chop out to the next level. I was down to the last few inches when it finally thawed. I went to Home Despot to get PVC fitting that had busted. Sold out. The isles were full of grumpy dirty smelly people with their hair stringing down in their faces.
 
Some guys here used to use a 100 lb propane tank filled with air. Regulate the flow way down and run an air line weighted along the bottom so bubbles would keep open the parts of the trough they needed open.
Tanks are expensive right now.

Could just put an aquarium air stone in there and run the hose to the heated well housing and plug in an aquarium air pump there, I guess. But trying not to use any more equipment than I have to.
 
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