Posts Tagged ‘Automatic Livestock Waterers’

Livestock Care: Dehydration in Livestock

Livestock Care

Summer officially begins on June 21. But hot temperatures can hit anytime. As a rancher and farmer, you need to be prepared and stay well informed to provide the best possible livestock care.

Studies show that once higher temperatures arrive, a cow’s daily water needs also rise by about 5-6 gallons per day. During hot and humid days, cows may need up to 50 percent more water.

Are you providing a constant and consistent supply of fresh drinking water to your livestock?

Nelson Manufacturing offers eight different styles of automatic livestock waterers. Approved by the U.S Government, these stainless steel bowls supply clean running water to your livestock all year long. You can select the best option for your budget and your herd.

Why is fresh water so critical? In a word: dehydration. About 60 percent of a cow’s total body weight is water. A water loss of five percent or more can cause dehydration.

Cows can easily become dehydrated due to rising temperatures, extra exertion, high humidity, or illness. Dairy cows are particularly susceptible to dehydration because they lose a great deal of water producing milk each day.

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of dehydration will allow you to provide the best care for your cattle:

  • Look at your cow’s eyes. There shouldn’t be any space between the eyelid and the eyeball. Dehydrated cows have sunken eyes. In fact, the more sunken looking the eye, the more dehydrated the cow.
  • Pinch a fold of your cow’s skin on the neck. The skin will spring to normal position in a well-hydrated cow. However, if a cow is dehydrated, the skin will stay folded or tented for several seconds, or, in more severe cases, indefinitely.
  • Check your cow’s mouth and nose. Are his mucous membranes dry?
  • Observe your cow. Is he acting listless or irritable? He may be dehydrated.

If you suspect mild dehydration, use a stomach pump or gravity flow system to pump 5-10 gallons of water into your cow. You may also wish to add electrolytes to the water to help your cow more quickly regain strength and energy. Continue treating your cow each day until all traces of dehydration are gone.

However, if you suspect more serious dehydration, call your veterinarian immediately. Severe dehydration can easily kill cows and your vet may have to administer intravenous fluids.

In addition to dehydration, cows can also suffer from heat stress. The best way to avoid this problem is to head it off at the pass. Provide plenty of shade in feeding and watering areas, install sprinklers in your holding pens, feed your cattle twice a day to lower heat production, and install plenty of automatic waterers.

Nelson Manufacturing livestock waterers are the ideal way to ensure your cattle always have fresh water. You can install our waterers in three convenient ways: on a concrete pad, in concrete pipe or directly to the walls of your stall. Call us today at 1-888-844-6606 to learn how we can help you provide the best livestock care possible.

How Automatic Waterers Work: Part 2 – Heating Systems

In Part 1 of this series, we talked about how different automatic waterers refill themselves. While there are benefits and drawbacks to each method we discussed, deciding which refilling system to use largely comes down to personal preference.Bouncing Castles

It is not the same story with deciding which heating system to use in your automatic waterer. You must pick the heating system that best suits your temperate zone or face thousands of dollars in repair costs and weeks of shutdown when your water pipes freeze and your whole system breaks. Here, we discuss how different automatic waterers heat their water supply and which one is best for you.Milwaukee

Self-Operated Lever

In the first installment, we discussed waterers that turn off and on when the animal pushes a lever. Essentially, these are hydrants, and like hydrants don’t require a heating system since the water supply stays beneath ground.

Self-operated waterers are convenient and cost-effective in terms of heating, but please refer back to the first installment for a detailed explanation of their drawbacks. Specifically, they are not convenient to clean, can get broken easily, and only water one animal at a time. If you need to water lots of livestock, this is simply not the system for you.


Some automatic waterers simply rely on insulation to keep from freezing. In addition to their thick walls, such waterers will also have a “lid” over the actual water reservoir, which the animal pushes down to reach the water.

Especially if they have lids, these types of waterers are often a nightmare to clean, and they simply don’t keep water from freezing in any climate where freezing temperatures are sustained for long periods. While we don’t advise waterers that rely on insulation alone, we do strongly suggest insulated waterers that rely on one of the following systems for their primary heating process.


In this system, pressure is used to constantly circulate the water and thereby keep it from freezing. Because they rely on pressure and not electricity, such heating systems are low-energy, cost-effective, and can last repair-free for years.

But being pressure-operated, often only one of these systems can be used per well. If more than one of these types of waterers is hooked up to the same well, there is not enough pressure to keep the water circulated in each. So if you need to water multiple lots from the same well, this is not the system for you!

Electrical Elements

Other waterers, including the ones we manufacture here at Nelson, rely on an electrical element to heat their water supplies. But if an electrical element is used to heat a large tank of standing water, it can be high-energy and not very cost-effective. As discussed in our first installment, Nelson’s waterers do not have large tanks; their electrical heating systems heat only the small amount of water that sits in the bowl. They also use insulated housing to further cut down on energy requirements. And unlike their pressure-operated cousins, as many of these waterers as needed can be hooked into the same well.

Nelson’s electrical heating element is an optional feature, but we highly recommend it for any temperate climate. We also recommend the water line insulation option, because even if the water in the bowl is thawed out, the pipes can still freeze over and possibly burst, and then you have a really big problem!

Determining which heating system best suits your situation is critical for hassle-free, year-round watering. Making a wise choice in terms of a refilling system can dramatically cut down on chore-time and labor. We hope that, taken together, our 2-part series has helped you make the right choice for your livestock operation!discount inflatable pirate ship

Click here for more information about Nelson Mfg water bucket heater.

Alpaca Care Basics

Nelson Waterers for AlpacasShelter

When adding a shelter to your property, consider seasonal climates and weather protection for your herd. Alpacas enjoy shelter that keeps them out of the heavy sun, away from wind and rain and close to a water source. Place your shelter in a direction that will break wind gusts and keep blowing snow and rain away from your alpacas. A simple 3 sided shelter will often do the trick but if you have something more elaborate, they fare well in barns too. Alpacas are most comfortable in shelters when they have clear and open exits. Shelters that coop them up with only one escape route can make them uneasy.

Pastures and Fencing

If your alpacas are out in the pasture keep them safe with layers of fencing and security. An alpaca’s only line of defense is to run when confronted by predators so creating a safe living environment for them is important. When identifying security options consider local threats to the area and prepare a solution against them. A perimeter fence around your regular fence is a good start but investing in other means such as guard animals may also be necessary. Learn more from a Tennessee alpaca breeder.

Feed and Forage

Alpacas can generally feed off of healthy pastures, averaging 10-20 per acre. Because they don’t eat at the root of the grass rotating your acreage for regrowth is fairly simple. Alpacas can also be supplemented with hay.


Alpacas need a continuous supply of fresh water. On average, alpacas will drink two to five gallons of water each day and more on hot days. To save time and energy hauling water to and from your pasture, invest in an automatic watering solution. Our livestock automatic waterer is a great solution for alpaca farming. Check out how these Iowa alpaca owners use our automatic waterer.


Sheering should be done once a year and often during the spring to keep alpacas cool. You can do this yourself with some training and research, or hire a travelling sheerer to come to you. Before your first sheering though, be sure to read up on how to sheer for selling or reuse, if you are looking to do so. Sheered fibers can be graded and processed yourself, sent to a mill for processing or sold.

Veterinary Care

Just like other livestock, alpacas should be on an annual care plan with your vet. Read up on potential health threats for your alpacas and keep emergency numbers and a symptoms guide on hand and near their living quarters. An alpaca “first aid kit” is also important to have on site.

Record Keeping

Tracking your alpacas’ feeding, sheering, breeding, vet care, budget and daily habits will make managing your herd much easier. Pen and paper is preferred by some while others like to manage with computer software and spreadsheets. The preference is yours, just make sure to stay on top of it!

Horse Watering through the Winter Months

Winter is just around the corner, and for livestock owners, this often means patching up walls, inventorying the hay supply, ensuring vaccinations are up to date, and checking the insulation in the birthing/hospice area. But most of all, it means finding ways to keep a fresh water supply going amidst freezing temperatures.

Nelson Waterer Winter Drinking

Hydrating Horses with Snow

For a few livestock owners, a viable solution to the problem of winter watering is simply letting the livestock eat snow. But because 10 inches of snow is roughly equivalent to 1 inch of water, the animals must have access to large areas of snow-covered land in order to make up the difference. Eating snow can also introduce the risk of lowered body temperatures. While this is not usually an issue for large adult livestock, it certainly is for younger and smaller livestock. Also, snow does not contain the minerals found in tap water, causing livestock to suffer from mineral deficiencies if not provided with regular supplements.

Chopping Ice

Growing up, I remember waking up extra early on those dark winter mornings, bundling up in Carhartts, grabbing the axe, and venturing out into the cold to chop ice. Doing this same thing at night, the next morning and the next night, for four months.  While there was nothing wrong with the tried-and-true method of chopping ice, it was very labor intensive, posed a few hazards (like flying ice which nearly blinded me on several occasions), and did not ensure a constant water supply for the livestock.

Insulating Tanks

Over the years my family experimented with wrapping insulation around pipes and tanks. While it provided a quick fix in an emergency situation, wrapping pipes and tanks was not a viable permanent solution. The wrapping quickly became stripped away by frolicking animals, and it rarely kept the water completely thawed out. A certain amount of ice-chopping was necessary and we had to be especially careful when using insulation so that it was out of reach or wouldn’t hurt our horses if ingested.

Non-Integrated Tank Heaters

Non-integrated tank heaters are designed to plug into an extension cord and place in a water tank to keep water thawed all winter long. In my experience though, non-integrated heaters were more of a headache than a help. Of the tank heaters we used on the farm, not one was ever strong enough to keep a full tank thawed out; ice-chopping and/or insulated wrapping was always necessary. And with horses, who like to play and get into things, the heaters were often flipped out or unplugged. What’s more, running extension cords was inconvenient and potentially dangerous, particularly if they’d run through trafficked areas.

That said, non-integrated heaters are good solutions for smaller animals.

Temperature-controlled Nelson Automatic Waterers

Automatic Waterers

I have found that automatic waterers are, far and away, the best solution for winter (and year-round) watering. They are insulated and either use circulation or a heating system to keep the water fresh. You never have to worry about chopping ice, wrapping tanks, running extension cords, or bursting water pipes when you go to fill a tank in the middle of winter.

While installing an automatic waterer may seem like a hassle, the pay-off is more than worth it. My family installed its first automatic waterer over 20 years ago and it has been in use ever since. No repairs, little to no maintenance, no checking water levels, and best of all no waking up extra early to go chop ice for several hours before school!

So if you’re looking for a watering solution that will stay thawed and minimize work and hassle, invest in an automatic waterer.

A final word of advice: Install your waterers now before the ground freezes and you’re left gripping your axe, clutching your lower back, and wondering why you didn’t.