I am sold on automatic waterers. I have some Nelsons and am generally pleased with them, although they are not maintenance free. I need to install more and was thinking of trying the bar bar A brand. I like the idea of no electric and clean water every time. If you have them I’d love to hear your opinion. Or if you have another favorite, do tell!
Helps to know where you are and what kind of use you will be making, in stalls, in pastures, individual horses, a couple, a herd drinking out of those, etc.
Is anything maintenance free?
Trubanloki - I mean I would prefer something lower maintenance than the nelsons. Also it’s hard to retrofit electric to them because we have a sprinkler system on the lawns. Also power outages mean frozen water.
I am in Texas. The waterers would be outside in pastures. 1-4 horses per.
I also have Nelsons and have had excellent luck with them for many years. Last summer I fenced a pasture that would have been difficult to run electricity to, and decided to try a Bar-Bar-A waterer. Installed it myself, and it works beautifully. I’m in central Wisconsin, and it is working great through our recent sub-zero weather. Only thing I can’t change about it: when the horses drink and then stand over it, dribbling water, which immediately (-25 degrees) freezes the paddle and blocks it from moving when pushed on. Easily solved by pouring a small bucket of hot water into the bowl and around the paddle. That’s only happened once so far, and other than that, I am really happy with the Bar-Bar-A.
We installed 7 Bar Bar A waterers a couple of years ago because we didn’t want to run electric to the pastures. I love them. The horses seem to appreciate cool fresh water in the summer and I appreciated that they worked great during last week’s freezing temps.
We haven’t had to do any maintenance yet, but I don’t expect them to remain entirely maintenance free. A nice plus is that they won’t grow algae or become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
How was your experience with the installation process? We want to put in two on our property, and would preferably do it ourselves. We conveniently have spigots located right next to the fence in both pasture where we’d be able to run the lines for the waterers.
The actual install was pretty easy. The problems we had were not related to the waterer itself but rather to where the water line came where the previous owner stubbed it. Long story, but again the actual installation was not complicated. I did rent a small backhoe for the hole.
Can muzzled horses use them?
What is your experience teaching the world’s dumbest horse to push the paddle?
I really love the idea of an electricity-free waterer that can resist freezing, but 2 of mine wear muzzles 6 months out of the year and the third is dumb as a box of rocks.
There are other waterers that us thermal tubes and so don’t really freeze too much, if at all.
Those also don’t use electricity and the tank is large enough for a muzzled horse, like Cobetts livestock waterers:
Unlike the Bar Bar A, the tank holds water, so it has to be cleaned regularly.
On the other hand, there is water in the tank, even a less bright horse should be able to use those, no paddle to push.
Those are interesting @Bluey! I’d be curious to know if anyone is using them in my area and what their experiences are in the winter. A product that includes an ice thickness guide makes me worried.
I’d be a bit concerned about a muzzle catching on the edge of the paddle. Then again, I’m always looking for ways a horse could get into trouble and maybe I go a little overboard with that.
My pasture horses have no problems using them with their feedbags on, but if I was using muzzles I would get the optional wider, rounded paddle. It doesn’t have any corners for a muzzle to get caught on. I have this option on my mini’s waterer. This won’t help if your muzzle is too wide for the bowl area.
If you use Greenguards, they have an article on their website with pics and descriptions of waterers that are and are not compatible: https://www.gg-equine.com/pages/waterers (disclaimer: I wrote the original version of that article for them a few years ago and one of the horses pictured is mine…I don’t know if they’ve updated it since)
I have one Nelson for the field and one Bar Bar A in the runs behind my barn (set in a fenceline so two horses can access it). I did that because I was concerned about muzzles and the Bar Bar A. They both have their pros and cons but most of the time I prefer the Nelson.
My Nelson has actually been lower-maintenance, whereas I’ve had to replace some parts in the Bar Bar A. I also have had more than one horse who enjoys stomping on the Bar Bar A paddle for some reason, but would never stick their foot in the Nelson.
I also find the Nelson easier to keep clean. I keep a little dish brush at the field and lightly scrub then dump the tub as needed. It’s super easy. The Bar Bar A shouldn’t need cleaning as often because water doesn’t stay in it, but if dirt or hay or stonedust gets into the bowl (which it does because horses), instead of just making the drinking bowl dirty like with the Nelson, it ends up down in the drain and fouls up the filter. It’s harder to get your hand under the paddle to clean than to just clean and dump the Nelson bowl too.
The Nelson also works no matter the weather. Snow hits the surface and melts in the heated water. Last week I had to scoop a bunch of sleet/hail crap out of the Bar Bar A and then hold the paddle for 20+ seconds before water started coming out. I’m not sure my horses would be persistent enough to hold it down for that long continuously so I’m glad I checked.
My horses seem to like them both. When I turn them out they often go right to the Nelson and drink, but when I bring them into the barn they love to drink from the Bar Bar A immediately too so maybe they just like whatever has the most novelty?? I’ve been able to teach every new horse to drink from both very easily, though my donkey took a while longer to decide they were safe.
I did have a brief episode of stray voltage with the Nelson that has never been an issue with the Bar Bar A.
I am kind of glad I did things the way I did because my horses are not in the barn most of the year so if I had a Nelson there, I would be running the heater for no reason 99% of the time.