Caring for horses, cattle, and livestock during the winter can be a difficult task, with the main goal of ensuring animals remain healthy. In the winter, as in any other season, animals need a combination of nutrients to remain healthy. Energy derived from feed and the resulting body heat is very important for survival. If any animal is not consuming enough water, it will eat less than it would otherwise.
There are a number or reasons an animal will not consume an adequate amount of water during winter months, the most common being:
- Water provided is too cold to drink comfortably.
- A trough or bucket is completely frozen over.
- Water is too hot due to a malfunctioning or improperly adjusted water heating device.
As we’ve all heard before, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink”, and if water is too cold it will not drink enough. This is never more true than in winter months. It’s well documented that water should be at least 40°F. Studies show that increasing water temperature from just above freezing (icy or frozen buckets or troughs) to 40°- 65°F, will increase the amount of water consumed by 40%.
Problems that can arise from horses not consuming enough water during winter months:
- Decreased feed intake: This has a direct impact on the animal’s ability to maintain body weight impacting their ability to tolerate the cold weather.
- Impaction colic: This risk is more widely discussed, and possibly more harmful. If a horse doesn’t consume enough water the risk of impaction colic rises sharply. On top of that, even if the horse does drink a proper amount of water; water that is too cold has a negative impact on the digestive track and causes disturbances during digestion and absorption.
These risks can be mitigated by installing the Drinking Post Waterer, which provides water at an ambient 50° Fahrenheit, ensuring there will be adequate water consumption through out the cold winter months. Because the water source is below the frost line there is no need for electricity or insulation to maintain proper temperature. Perfect water temperature throughout the winter assists in promoting good health.