Automatic Waters for Pastures


I am looking for recommendations for Auto waters for pastures. I live in Ohio so it does get quite cold in the winter. We have 23 horses at our facility.

Has anyone installed this themselves? Our barn/hydrants are a distance from the fields.



Richie waterers have a lot of fans here in Minnesota… I see a lot of praise on the MN horse FB page.

I have a couple Franklin waterers and really hate them. They’re really difficult to get into to clean.

I love my Nelsons.

If you do a search on COTH for “waterer”, you’ll find lots of feedback from folks with auto waterers. Bar-Bar-A has also gotten good recommendations for cold climates.

With your underground water lines very far from your fields, you’ll have a lot of pipe to install. Might want to price out the alternative of fencing modifications. Can you fence off an “alleyway” to where the waterline already is?

I keep saying I’m going to install them (and this usually coincides with our winter electric bill :wink: ).

Love my Nelsons. I live in northern Indiana. Gets negative 10 temps, down to -40 windchill and they have never frozen. My dad and I installed them ourselves but he is a licensed electrician and plumber and lifelong contractor and farmer so he is more experienced than most so I can’t speak as to how easy it would be for the average DIYer.

I had to dig quite a bit of line and that was expensive. I put them in fence lines so one serves two fields to save $$. I built a box around them and a bracket over. This has worked very well and reduced costs a lot.

They were not cheap but hands down my favorite investment!!! I so love just walking by and glancing in to make sure all is well on cold days, instead of trudging back and forth hauling water like I used to do.

I boarded at a farm where they had these… the pasture model

The crows would pick up a fecal ball, fly over and perch on the waterer. Then they would drop the poo in the water and pick out all the oats that floated on the surface. The staff could not keep the waterers clean, the horses would not drink poopy water. It was a mess.
Other farms have had raccoons washing food items in the waterers.
I will always favor a trough, but our climate is much warmer.

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Interesting. We have never had any issue keeping our Nelsons clean. Never had anything in them. To the contrary, I had three squirrels drown in my 75 gallon Rubbermaid tanks at separate times. Not sure what that was about. Squirrel family with suicide/depression in the blood? Who knows. But my dad has had the Nelsons for 10 years with no issues as well. They are awesome.

Farms with raccoons etc would be a lot better off trapping the raccoons than blaming the Nelsons! Raccoons will wash in whatever is available. They used my cat’s water bowl nightly until I was able to snag them and it wasn’t because it was designed wrong or anything. It’s water, available, they’ll wash in it. You just can’t see the evidence as easily in a big tank but it is just as gross for your horses to drink that.

My barn builder installed 3 Bar-Bar-A waterers in my barn and pasture. They were easy to install. No electric, they never freeze and it’s always fresh water. I’ll be moving my horses in soon and I can’t wait to be free of water buckets!

My b/o put in 7 Nelsons many years ago, and I think they were the best investment she’s made. DH put them in with some help, I think, because it was a pretty big project. They run off an old dug well that used to serve the house. Also, they put in a generator hookup so there will be water when the power goes out. We are in southern Maine and they made it through last year’s ridiculous winter of snow and frigid temperatures without any problem. For the boarders’ paddocks they are in the fence line so they are shared. She has 3 big pastures which each have their own. They rarely have problems, but according to the DH are relatively easy to fix. He has a few spare parts on hand.

My horse was probably the dumbest when it came to using them. He kept using the tub for the first few days, and when wouldn’t use them because he didn’t like the sensation of the water refilling while he drank. I went out with apple slices one day, floated them in the bowl, and he was fine. New horses to the farm don’t seem to have any problems getting used to them.

I have two nelsons I planned on getting installed…until I found out how much installation was going to cost me :eek:!

In my location, you need a 9’ hole dug for each waterer and it was going to cost me 4K to install two waterers. I opted for a large tank with frost free hydrant and heater instead!

Next time I have 4K laying around, I may install the nelsons, but for now, my tank does just fine :slight_smile:

Love my Nelsons. A friend also has Nelsons in the barn and in the pastures.

Richies are ok as well.

As with ANY watering system, the water needs to be checked daily for cleanliness and availability.

I worked in a barn that had Nelsons. Overall I liked them, but there were plusses and minuses.

Plusses-- not hauling water. Easy to clean. Nice looking. 99% of the horses used them with no issues even if they had never used a waterer before. Water was always fresh.

The major drawback was if you have a horse that dunks feed/hay or just gets dirt in the waterer, it can work its way under the bowl. That led to some pretty slimy/nasty waterers and cleaning them was somewhat difficult. I was always worried it might gunk up the insides enough to cause a fire, though I never saw that happen. They sell a grill that can go over the bowl. It sucks.

The other thing is maintenance. There are no “Nelson” service people. You just have to call a regular plumber. We had… very varying success. Some could figure it out, some had no idea. Nelson was completely unhelpful, wouldn’t send an owner’s manual, wouldn’t talk to the plumber. You are on your own once you get these. We had one waterer where the scale somehow got out of alignment so the bowl didn’t fill when it should have. It took 3 plumbers to get it figured out.

And then the major thing I worry about is what happens when the electricity goes out in the winter. Does the whole things freeze and break? Again, this never happened-- but I worry it could.

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Do not like Ritchie’s, ours have frozen in Delaware despite using the pipes and covers etc they sell so they will not freeze. Luckily we can tun electric to them in the winters so they do not freeze. Unless you have a way to get electric to them, I would not use Ritchie.

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Curious about cost for the Bar Bar A, they really sound too good to be true!

My farm has 4 Mirafount waterers, and one “Drinking Post”. The mirafount ones do end up having the internal “float” freeze in very very cold temps which is really frustrating and problematic. But it doesn’t happen often, and otherwise they stay very clean and all horses use and like them.

The drinking post is harder for horses to figure out, but it never freezes.

Last place I boarded at, they had an automatic waterer that had a floating ball in the round opening which kept the surface of the water from freezing. There wasn’t a brand name on the outside of the fountain so I am not sure which brand it was. The horses just pushed the ball down when they wanted to drink.

I live in ND and it gets rather cold! I was there for 2 winters and to my knowledge, it never froze up or was an issue with it.

We have two Ritchie waterers-one in the pasture, and one in the run ins.
This model:

They recommend the heater in freezing conditions, but we don’t keep it plugged in all of the time in the winter, only when we are expecting single digits or lower at night which is pretty rare for our part of central VA. Very easy to clean, and has been quite reliable.

My sister who runs a boarding stable, and parents who have a beef cattle operation each use the JUG waterer and seem to like them. They circulate water to keep it from freezing without a heater.

Do not like Ritchie’s, ours have frozen in Delaware despite using the pipes and covers etc they sell so they will not freeze. Luckily we can tun electric to them in the winters so they do not freeze. Unless you have a way to get electric to them, I would not use Ritchie.[/QUOTE]

They use electric because there is a heater coil that keeps water from freezing. We had 4 Ritchie waterers at our last farm and had no problems with any of them.

A small one was installed w/o electric by the previous owner and I just ran a lightbulb inside which kept the water line coming in from freezing and also kept the water in the bowl unfrozen. It was inside the barn which helped.

Do not like Ritchie’s, ours have frozen in Delaware despite using the pipes and covers etc they sell so they will not freeze. Luckily we can tun electric to them in the winters so they do not freeze. Unless you have a way to get electric to them, I would not use Ritchie.[/QUOTE]

They don’t market a waterer with a claim that you don’t need to heat it in winter temps, do they? :confused: