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Automatic Watering Devices for Horses: Waterers Versus Water Buckets in the Barn

Automatic Watering Devices for Horses: Waterers Versus Water Buckets in the Barn


Many barn owners install automatic watering devices (or “automatic waterers”) for their horses. It means they no longer have to lug heavy buckets from the horses’ stalls to the spigot or drag a water hose down the barn aisle in order to keep the animals hydrated.

This is especially true in large barns where dozens of horses use countless buckets for feeding and watering. For example, some horses are kept in their stalls full time except when they are ridden, and therefore require two water buckets to provide sufficient liquid. This means a lot of work for stable managers that automatic waterers can eliminate.

What are Automatic Waterers?

An automatic waterer is a device that automatically refills water once the level drops below a certain point. They can be made of different material – most commonly plastic, stainless steel or aluminum – and are typically affixed to one corner of the stall.

There are also outdoor automatic watering devices for horses that are larger than the ones intended for stall use. They are typically the same size and shape as regular watering troughs and supply horses with a continuous flow of water.

Are They Better for Watering Horses?

The advantage of automatic watering devices is the ability to keep water flowing without manually having to refill a bucket. Of course, they are not foolproof and they do require constant maintenance to remain efficient.

One concern with automatic waterers for horses is the tendency toward clogs. If a horse defecates in the device or drops a mouthful of grain into it, for example, the water will not be able to refill. This happens more often than one might think and, over time, can permanently damage the device.

However, automatic waterers are a great way to save money when watering horses. The bowl itself is smaller, so even if it becomes necessary to empty it out less water is wasted. It stays cool and clean longer, and these devices do not have to be cleaned as often as water buckets.

What About Insulated Automatic Waterers?

For those who live in extreme climates (either heat or cold) there are insulated automatic waterers available. The EcoFount Series from Ritchie Fount, for example, is a stainless steel automatic watering device with a full-insulated poly casing. This means that water does not freeze in the basin or heat beyond drinking temperature.

It is still important to make sure pipes are protected when using insulated automatic waterers because damage to the pipes could still render the device unusable. Stable owners should research their options carefully with consideration to their geographic locations.

How to Buy Automatic Watering Devices

Before heading to the store and writing a check, it is important for stable owners to consider different models, sizes and shapes of automatic waterers for horses. Although watering horses is a seemingly mundane aspect of stable management, a dehydrated horse can easily become critical.

Stable owners should consider:

  • Water Valve.How is the water dispensed? Some automatic waterers use peddles or other cumbersome tools to signal a low water supply, and can actually deter horses from using them.
  • Material. Stainless steel is by far the most preferable material for watering horses. It does not rust and can also add aesthetic appeal to the barn. However, other materials are acceptable and less expensive.
  • Thermostat. Those who live in cold or hot climes might want to consider a waterer with thermostat control or insulation.
  • Consumption. Technology has progressed dramatically even in the equine market, and some devices come with water consumption meters so stable owners can monitor their water usage.
  • Mounting.How will the automatic waterer be mounted in the stall? Waterers with two or more mounting options are the best investment because they can be used in numerous locations.

Automatic watering devices can replace water buckets for horses, but it is important to make sure the horses are comfortable drinking from them. When first implementing this system, stable owners should leave water buckets in the stall for at least a few weeks until the horses get used to the sight and sound of automatic devices

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