Keeping water troughs open in Montana is a very difficult task. If you don't have electricity nearby you're left with little options. Most people just use an ax to cut a snoot size hole for drinking. I did not have luck with that, the entire trough froze.
Being that I have a plastic trough some options are not great, such as the propane heater. My tank is far too small for that as well. While we have electricity some what close to the shelters the trough heater I have is too small to keep it open. A larger more powerful heater is an option but we have other devices on the circuit so that was a limitation. Most tank heaters are 1500w, nothing is really available between 300w to 800w.
After a bit of research, ok it wasn't a bit, it was late nights of frantically trying to come up with a solution so I didn't have to hand bucket water twice a day like I did last year. (Very much missing our BarBar-A auto waterer at our old property). I have heard of bubblers, but some of the examples I saw online didn't seem like it would work. Until I found user Around the Country on youtube using a commercial bubbler. At only 20w it was worth a shot.
I ordered it from Amazon and it arrived pretty quickly for Montana. We set it up with our small 250w trough heater and hoped for the best. We're about a month in and so far it's doing the thing! We have gotten to -10° and the water stayed open! This is a huge burden off of me as we don't get home until dark (aka cold) and hauling water by hand is pretty much my least favorite thing to do. If you're looking to lighten that electrical bill for your equines, give this a try.
For those who are unaware, keeping water available to your equines at all time is even more important in winter. They tend to drink less which increases the chances of colic.
The colics most associated with the cold weather months are impaction-related. When ingested feed stops moving through the horse's gut efficiently, the material can accumulate and form a blockage. Feed and gas then back up behind the blockage, causing distention of the intestine and associated pain. - Equus Magazine
Other ways we help to combat the possibility of colic is providing the donkeys with a mash made from timothy pellets, flaxseed meal, vitamins/Minerals, replenimash, and some salt. Soaked in hot water the pellets become light and fluffy. The donkeys love it and the salt helps encourage them to drink.
We had to leave our beautiful donkey barn behind at our old property. We now have to completely rebuild.
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Here to share all my donkey related adventures....why? Because they're basically the best thing ever.