When you have pigs during the winter months, then you will need a heated hog waterer to keep the water from freezing solid. Pigs need a constant supply of fresh water. Busting ice in a stock tank is not a very effective plan for pigs.
There are many types of ready made heated hog waterers available such as: automatic trough waterer, automatic nipple waterers, automatic bowl waterers and automatic round bin waterers. All of these usually come heated or with the option to do so. These are not enormously expensive and are the best option if you have pigs all year around every year.
Our homemade hog waterer that we made out of a reclaimed 50 gallon plastic barrel, needed a heater. We had already tried a
drain plug de-icer in our plastic stock tanks for the other livestock. This type would not work very well in our homemade hog waterer. The best inexpensive thing that we have found so far for this type of hog waterer is a floating stock tank heater that is safe for plastic.
There are thermostatically controlled floating stock tank heaters and non-thermostatically controlled floating stock tank heaters. However, this will NOT keep the gravity fed bowl from freezing open or shut when it gets much below freezing.
The only part of the hog waterer that may freeze up would be the pressure waterer at the bottom even with the hogs rooting against the flap, it will still freeze up if the temperature drops much below freezing. If it does become an issue, there are also bowls with nipples or valves instead of the metal door that may yield better
Thermostatically Controlled Hog Waterer Heaters
The thermostatically controlled floating stock tank heater worked the best in our homemade hog waterer until the temperature dropped too low. It was safe for plastic, so it wouldn’t melt the barrel when it floated against the side of the barrel. It also conserved more energy than the non-thermostatically controlled floating stock tank heater or a convertable tank de-icer.
The convertable tank de-icer can be used as a floating tank heater or it converts into a submersible tank heater. Some days may be warm enough that a heater may not be necessary to keep the hog waterer from freezing and to conserve power with a non-thermostatically controlled heater, you would just have to unplug it or turn it off. You will just wear a path between the house and pig pen flipping a switch and sometimes having to bust ice anyway. It is extremely hard to bust ice in a plastic barrel.
You can accidentally put a hole in the barrel trying to bust up the ice.
The best option is a heated self waterer made for hogs in the winter months. They are inexpensive, but vital to keep a source of water open.
Installing The Thermostatically Controlled Hog Waterer Heater
The thermostatically controlled floating stock tank heater and the non-thermostatically controlled floating stock tank heater will always stay on top of the water if the heater cord is long enough to almost reach the bottom of the waterer. Make sure that the pigs cannot come in contact with the heater or the cord. This type of tank heater works well only for the barrel or bin hog waterers, I wouldn’t recommend it for a trough type hog waterer. Make sure to tie your heater cord plug and extension cord plug together if you don’t have a close outlet. Then, a water resistant cord connect will prevent moisture from getting in the plug and keep the plug ends connected. Also, make sure to tie the plug ends to the fence or up out of the way so they don’t fall into the waterer. If moisture gets into the plug, it will short out your heater and your waterer will freeze up.
Also, consider evaporation during the winter.There will be
more waterer evaporation with a heater, you may have to fill your hog waterer more than once a day.
Hints for Heated Hog Waterer
A thermostatically controlled heated hose for a water source along with a frost free hydrant will make things easier in the winter to fill all your livestock tanks including the homemade heated hog waterer.