Hi,
I just installed my first automatic waterer. I live in Central Wisconsin and we usually have some moderately cold temps in winter. Looking for any hints or tips from others on what you may have done or not done to avoid any potenial problems. I did have it installed in a large free stall area so it won't be outside in the elements and this way I can visually keep an eye on it daily. Wondering if I should leave the water tank in there for awhile until the horses figure it out? Did anyone ever have trouble as far as having one freezing up ever? I know it'll be great but I have a few reservations with it being something new.

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Yes, what can go wrong will go wrong.

freezing
overflowing--too much water
plugging--too little water
flooding--way too much water

Grit in the water supply may plug the input filter,
Grit in the water supply may pass through the filter and keep the flow valve from shutting all the way, resulting in an overflow. (That's what the filter is intended to prevent)

The Heater can fail,
It can fail on, melting parts of the waterer
It can fail off, allowing freezing, then flooding once it warms up.

The supply line can freeze,
Not buried deep enough.
In Wisconsin, Deep enough is deep.
In an extra cold year, it may freeze anyway.

Horses will kick it, chew it, paw it,poop in it or otherwise destroy any part they can.

These things will likely happen after the thermometer indicated it's below 0. This is the exact same time that you don't want to try to repair equipment outside.

Still, it's not so bad, compare all this with hauling buckets in winter, fixing fence, tractor repairs, manure management, then training and riding the beasts.

All things considered, automatic wateres still save time. Being nice to Mr or Ms fix-it makes it all possible.
I DID haul water for half of last winter hence the automatic waterer. New farms are loaded with surprises the first winter. As long as the new water line went in we made it all worthwhile. It was such a fun winter. Of course we also dug a new well IN the barn so we have back up too now. No such thing as over kill when it's below zero and fresh water daily is involved. Still waiting to hear how long the horses take to drink from them or if I should leave the tank out for a bit yet?
At Redinger Dressage horses often visit for a month or two for training. Sometimes, visitors are not accustomed to automatic waters. This summer a young (3yo) horse came for training that had never used an automatic waterer. My wife was worried that he might not drink, so she kept a bucket of water in his stall. Being of the opinion that horses are not smart enough to know that a bowl of water that automaticly fills is anything other than a bowl of water. I installed a digital camera that captured an image of the waterer once per minute. I let it run for a day and then stitched the images together into a movie. The movie showed that the horse did indeed drink from the waterer. After showing the movie to my wife, she removed the water bucket from the stall.

Some waterer's have the capability to indicate the amount of water they supply. So, with a waterer accessible to a single horse, you can easily monitor that horses drinking habits and possibly get early warning of health problems.

A single waterer, accessed by many horses makes it difficult to tell which horses are drinking and how much. Still, a significant change in water consumption by a group of horses indicates something is amiss within the group.
A time lapse movie of 24 hours with 1 minute per frame runs for about 1 minute at 29 frames per second. So, if you spent a minute each day watching a time lapse movie of the waterer, you would get a rough idea of what's going on. You need a Mr/Ms fix-it deluxe to pull this off. If you have a deluxe Mr/Ms fix-it he/she will love this idea--oh goodie, wires, cameras, computers,infra-red illuminators-- if you have only the standard model, it's probably best to count your blessings and be satisfied with what you've got.

I have heard of cases where horses stop drinking because of electrical faults in the waterer's heater. Or electric fencing coming into contact with the water supply.

People are not the only animals with habits, preferences and the ability to learn. A heated waterer is preferred to a bucket of ice, by both of you.
HAha! If I would even mention the camera idea I have a feeling I would be politely told to pack a lunch, grab a chair, and dress warm.

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