Wednesday, 02 December 2015 12:55

DIY: A Freezing Temperature Friendly Pig Watering System (how-to, with pics and video)

Tired of hauling water and stomping ice out of containers?  I have the solution.

This is our first attempt at raising pigs in the back yard.  We built a basic fence and pig house, got the pigs, and started feeding and watering them.  We were hauling 5 gallon buckets of water for a short time before we realized a better solution was in order.  We have two of these 275-gallon water totes: one under our deck that hooks up to the gutter, and another down by the pigs.  We fill the one using rain water and then use a long hose to fill up the other tank down by the pigs.  No more carrying water!  The hardest part was figuring out how to keep the whole thing from freezing solid during the winter, as it typically hits single digits in January and February here in Northeast PA.

Since water and electricity do not mix well, it is important that you install a ground rod next to your tank.  I installed my ground rod about 3 feet away from my tank and ran a long copper wire up the side of the tank and down into it.  If you are not comfortable installing a ground rod yourself, have an electrician come do it for you.  This way, if something goes wrong with one of the electric heaters, it will not shock us or the pigs.  Be sure to check your wires regularly (every few months, at least) and replace things before they wear out. 

Materials Required:

* Important:  These thermostatically controlled heating elements are set to turn on at 35 degrees F, so that you're not wasting electricity.  Make sure that if you build one of these, do not get a regular "heater" unless you really want to pay for your pigs to drink water that is actually warm.  We are only looking to keep it from freezing!


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Above: Photo of pigs drinking from the water nipple.  We put down a few logs for the tank to sit on, so that we don't need to pump the water "up" to the pigs.



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Above: The PVC pipe has been slid back (towards the tank) so that we can see the garden hose inside it.  Notice the watering nipple clamped at the end, and the heating cable wrapped around it.  The heating cable is wrapped around the garden hose several times inside the PVC pipe.  It is important that you brace the PVC pipe so that this cannot happen when the pigs push into it; you don't want them to be able to chew on the garden hose or heating cable! 



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Above: The heating tape also wraps around the tank's spout and handle.  Inside the tank itself is the drop-in tank de-icer.  Note that the 2" PVC pipe does NOT attach to the tank itself.  It is loose, so that the whole "arm" that sticks through the fence can wiggle freely, so that the pigs don't slam into the PVC and break a connection, causing it to leak. 



Not pictured, I stacked bales of hay all around the tank, and some loose hay on top.  I plan on finding a better "blanket" to throw over the overall tank when the temperatures really drop.  I'll post an update to this post once I figure out how much it's costing us in terms of electricity, hopefully by March 2016 after we get through the first winter. 

Last modified on Monday, 07 December 2015 08:51


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