Winter Cattle Watering System
Frostfree Nosepumps Ltd. is a small Western Canadian company started and managed by Alberta farmer Jim Anderson. Jim developed a winter cattle watering system on the farm that allowed him to reliably water their commercial beef herd during all four seasons throughout remote sections of their land base. This winter cattle watering system became known and registered as the Frostfree Nosepumps.
The Frostfree Nosepump is a livestock operated winter cattle watering system that functions just as effectively throughout the milder seasons as well. It is a mechanical device that allows the livestock to operate a steel pendulum with their nose, which in turn operates a 3” piston pump suspended vertically into an established wet well in the ground.
As the livestock manually operate the pump, it draws water from the source in the ground up into a small trough directly below the pendulum that they can then drink from. This system has become a viable winter cattle watering system option on the market as a result of its reliability, cost-effectiveness, and low maintenance.
How our winter cattle watering system works:
The Frostfree Nosepump is different than any other winter cattle watering system on the market. Due to the mechanical nature of the pump, and the four main elements of extreme weather protection revolving around harnessing geothermal heat and using insulation to retain said ground heat and repel the effects of extreme weather, the Frostfree Nosepump is a truly sustainable device that requires no extra infrastructure or inputs.
During periods where livestock are grazing or being fed remotely, they can pump their own drinking water on demand reliably, regardless of ambient temperature, length of the day, type of weather, or amount of sunlight. This creates a dynamic of ultra-reliability and no cost operation that truly makes it a unique watering system.
Winter cattle watering systems require that the water they are providing to the livestock is protected from freezing. At all times, demand for water is variable and as such, a reliable year-round watering system must incorporate a way to protect the water within the system, and the system itself, from freezing up. Most of the mainstream winter cattle watering systems rely on constantly provided inputs to protect them from freezing. These inputs include: electricity (from the grid or from solar generation) to power heating elements, or heat tape. Electrically driven pumps are common whereby such a device pumps water rapidly into a bowl or trough and then allows excess to drain away. Alternatively, power can be used to constantly cycle water to reduce the temperature that the water will actively freeze at. Combustible fuels are also a strategy to protect against freezing. Burning wood or propane in a confined area can maintain a hospitable environment (to a certain point) to protect against watering system freeze up.
The downside of these conventional types of winter cattle watering systems is that not only is there more infrastructure required, but the constant inputs represent a constant cost. By establishing a big enough, deep enough wet well in the ground, the Frostfree Nosepump will be reliably protected from the cold effects by realizing enough geothermal heat that a hospitable dynamic can be achieved and maintained without the use of constant, non-sustainable inputs. Additionally, by protecting the ground around ANY winter cattle watering system, the amount of frost that will successfully migrate into the ground around the water source can be significantly reduced. The reduction of frost migration and the subsequent effect on the watering system is one of the four elements of protection that must be employed to successfully utilize a Frostfree Nosepump and can be considerably beneficial to ALL winter cattle watering systems.
Frequently Asked Questions
A large, deep wet well is established into the ground to house water from the source underground below the frost zone. Geothermal heat from the bottom of the wet will is captured inside the wet well at the top with closed-cell insulation to create and maintain an above-freezing temperature inside the wet well. An insulated pad acts as a frost break and eliminates ground compaction to minimize the migration of frost into the ground. A small leak hole is instituted in the vertical plumbing to allow the uncontaminated water in the top five feet of the system to void itself back into the wet well when the system is not in use.
Eliminate access to any other water source, temporarily disable the leak back hole to eliminate the need for cattle to re-prime the top five feet of the system, introduce a small group first to reduce usage competition, and put a minuscule amount of water in the bowl behind the pendulum which incentivizes the cattle to push the pendulum out of the way to get at the bit of water they can see and smell behind it. In turn, pushing the pendulum out of the way produces more water into the trough and that is how they learn to operate the device.
One winter cattle watering system is capable of watering up to 100 head assuming they have access to the device 24 hours per day, and that they are within one quarter section of land
There are many variables that will affect the overall project cost. Some of these variables are; what is the water source and what do you need to do to access it? How much of the excavation and construction of the necessary components can you do on your own? Contractor and culvert prices in your area? One Frostfree Nosepump costs $1699 CAD and generally speaking, the total cost of installation within Canada and the USA is approximately $4000 to $7000.
An effective way to generate more income is to figure out more efficient ways to utilize the resources that presently exist. Implementing one or more Frostfree Nosepumps as a winter cattle watering system allows producers to do just that. By establishing this reliable watering system in remote areas of our land base, it allows us to graze and feed our cattle away from the yard for longer periods of the year. In turn, this means that we can harvest and haul less feed home, haul less manure back out to the fields, put less hours on our expensive equipment, burn less diesel, and improve the quality of water our cattle are taking in to decrease health issues and increase production.