Field Study of Electrically Heated and Energy Free Automated Livestock Water Fountains Summary

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Cattle producers utilize livestock water fountains to provide a trouble free source of clean water to their stock. Two types of fountains are available, electrically heated and energy free. The electrically heated types have been on the market for many years. With proper installation and maintenance they have proven themselves dependable. The energy free fountains (sometimes called super insulated) are relatively new in the market place. These fountains work much like a thermos in that they slow down the cooling of the contained water. As the animals drink, the cold water they remove is exchanged for warm ground water. To prevent freezing a minimum consumption is required such that sufficient ground water enters the fountain to offset the cooling of the contained water. Although manufacturers guaranteed their products dependability, many farmers remain sceptical.

1. To assess the dependability of energy free water fountains under Western Canadian winter conditions.

2. To compare the operational and maintenance requirements of heated and energy free water fountains.

The project demonstrated that provided energy free water fountains are properly designed, properly installed, and properly maintained, they function adequately in severe prairie winter conditions. As the name implies, they do not consume electricity. However, daily maintenance was required. Ice frequently formed around the drinker closures and froze the closures open or closed. In order to prevent heat loss from the fountain, or to ensure access of the water to the cattle, the ice had to be removed on a daily basis. Most farmers walk their pens daily and do not consider this to be overly negative. Ice build up was evident in the ground riser pipes. One riser pipe (200 mm diameter) built up with ice completely across the top and froze the supply line. The other units had some evidence of ice build up but were not adversely affected. Adequately sized ground riser pipes are essential to the proper operation of energy free water fountains. The ice build up around the base of the energy free water fountains was much less than the heated water fountains. The bulls that the water fountains served generally had little trouble learning how to drink from the energy free fountains.

All of the heated water fountains provided a dependable source of water for the livestock. Their electrical consumption ranged from 445 kWh to 1828 kWh. The energy consumption was dependant on a number of factors such as water fountain size, cabinet insulation, exposed water surface area and the average water temperature. These water fountains seldom required any daily maintenance. Wide daily fluctuations in water temperature occurred with these water fountains, some greater than others. The water temperature of some of the water fountains also varied with weather conditions. Ice build up around the base of all the heated water fountains was significant. It was necessary to remove this ice periodically to insure safe footing of livestock as they drank. The water fountain bowls were cleaned periodically to provide a clean source of water.

Three energy free and five electrically heated livestock water fountains were tested. Differences in operation and maintenance requirements existed among water fountains of each type. Details on the operation and maintenance of individual water fountains is provided in the detailed final report.

See also report # 706 - Field Study of Electrically Heated and Energy Free Automated Livestock Water Fountains

NOTE: The reader is cautioned that the information in this Research Update is only a summary of the test results. For complete information, contact PAMI at 1-800-567-PAMI and ask for PAMI Report #DP0990.

Canadian Electrical Association
Energy, Mines and Resources Canada
Manitoba Energy and Mines
Manitoba Hydro
Ontario Hydro
Horned Cattle Association of Saskatchewan
Franklin Equipment Inc.
Hawkeye Steel Products Inc.
Hurst Equipment Ltd.
Miraco, a division of Ahrens Agricultural Industries, Co.
Superior Precast
Weather Master Systems. Inc.

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For more information about the content of this document, contact Darryl Slingerland.
This document is maintained by Nicole Huggins-Rawlins.
This information published to the web on February 15, 2002.
Last Reviewed/Revised on February 6, 2013.