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low tech freeze proof waterer using pond

Leah Sattler

Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
I caught the last half of a show about cattle where the farmer had constructed a freeze proof waterer. From what I could tell he had built a concrete in ground tank outside the berm of a pond. it had a gravity fed float system that released water from the pond into the tank from what I gathered. does anyone have any more details or tidbits about creating and using one of these?


"One cannot help an involuntary process. The point is not to disturb it. - Dr. Michel Odent
Jami McBride

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 1909
Location: PNW Oregon
Leah, great to have to you back!  Well... you plus one more cutie.

I wish I had seen that show.  I would guess the guy used the same set up as a hose-automatic waterer only with the pond acting as the water source.

Here is a link to eHow about making your own automatic waterer - ; "Turn on the water supply and adjust the float to shut off the supply of water when it reaches the appropriate height in the container. Test several times to assure it is operating properly." 

So the question becomes can one of these floats shut off the water/pressure from a pond?
Joel Hollingsworth

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
Jami McBride wrote:So the question becomes can one of these floats shut off the water/pressure from a pond?

Municipal pressure is enough to push water up a few stories, so unless the pond is situated way upslope of the tank, it probably isn't too much.

The water itself might be a problem, though. The valve might clog or corrode, depending on how it's made. Some filtration, and in special circumstances maybe some means of hardening the water, might be a good idea.

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Leah Sattler

Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
thanks jami!

it looked like the waterer was only slightly lower than the surface of the pond so I am not so sure pressure is the problem, although that is certainly something to address. I don't know about the gunking up of a hose. I got the impression that the concrete went almost all the way through the berm to the pond and that it was the thermal mass of the berm and pond and the passive transfer of the heat that kept the water from freezing. I just can't quite picture the float system or the portion where the water actually entered the waterer. it must have been very simple as it appeared there would be no way to access it after the project was complete. although that could be completely wrong and I just couldn't see the access or they didnt elaborate on it.
Jami McBride

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 1909
Location: PNW Oregon
Joel, I should have typed shut-off & turn-on - meaning addressing the entire issue of water pressure to operate such a float/valve system.

Yes, sediment and other stuff would be a big issue - good point.  I was assuming filtration of some type, but it should be mentioned.

I find the idea of man-made mass to heat the water a great idea, and very Sepp-ish don't you think?  One would need those sunny winter days to capitalize on this function.

This reminds me of that old post with a link to cement animal waters.... here it is again for reference -
Leah Sattler

Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
the sunny day thing would depend on the climate I suppose. this was a locally oriented piece and we just get surface ice on ponds temporarily. I think its the deeper warmer water and the concrete tanks proximity to it that (along with the ground temps) are supposed to do the job.
Chelle Lewis

Joined: Dec 10, 2009
Posts: 423
Location: Hartbeespoort, South Africa
This here might interest you.... Something I have on file for a rabbit automatic DIY waterer.

If the tank is not plastic and placed so this could be possible... it could be warmed beneath much as you would a "donkey" that heats water.... just in this case only enough to de-freeze the water.

paul wheaton

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 17414
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
So, the way they keep it from freezing is to keep it flowing?

Maybe they also take the water from low in the pond where the water is warmer?

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Brenda Groth

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
well in Michigan where I live unless you have constant flow of intake of water you won't get freezeproof..even if you heat it..bubblers help but when it drops to -20 and lower, they'll still freeze over...i think you are a few zones warmer than we are though


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