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Viable alternatives to unsafe Dugouts

Chipping holes in frozen dugouts to provide water for livestock during the winter is not only cold and nasty bur can also be dangerous for both the rancher and his animals.

At minimum, cattle or horses could become injured if they slip and fall, or even drown in masses if the ice gives way.

Do you really want to gamble with your cattle on ice? Winter water systems can help make that worry go away.

Remote Watering systems designed to take free energy from the sun, wind and heat of the earth underground may have high initial cost, but over time, they will pay fro themselves.

Besides avoiding risks to human and animals health, these systems allow producers to winter their animals on pastures and hay land where the manure will offer fertilizing benefits rather than a cost to haul it away in the spring.

For instance, keeping the bulls out of the yard with an off site watering system is better than having them at home than smashing up your corrals. Many ranchers at some point will be faced with the prospect of dredging out old watering holes. A better option would be to fence off a dugout and install a weather proof wet well watering system beside it.

Installing one can be accomplished in a single afternoon. A backhoe is required to dig a deep hole beside the dugout, while leaving a strip of earth between the two to act as a temporary dam. Then a two inch stationary plastic intake pipe in the form of a "T" is installed in the hole, at a point about 1 meter from the bottom. The "T" should have 1/2" holes drilled into it to allow good water flow to keep junk from getting in it, yet still prevent muskrats from getting in and plugging it up.

A 30 meter trench below the frost line is then dug leading up to a 30" plastic cribbing that house the water bowl and a pump at the bottom. A motion detector triggers the pump when the animals come up to drink, and any excess water drains back down into the cribbing. The water in the dugout under the ice is only two or three degrees above freezing. So by going that 100 feet, you warm up the water and you keep the manure away from the dugout.

We recommend plastic cribbing because it won't rust, retains warmth from the ground better, and is wide enough to allow a person to crawl down inside if ever required.

Once the water line to the cribbing is attached and the trench is filled in, the backhoe operator then takes out the last scoop of earth separating the dugout from the hole, then the water flows in to cover the intake.

If you do it right the first time, you will have a good system forever. With enough water there will not be livestock pushing like there is on the ice with a small hole knocked in.

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