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Build A Freeze-Resistant Stock Tank
Here's how a Kansas grazier keeps the water flowing in winter.

By Arlen J. Busenitz email: stocker500@juno.com

All of our water lines are underground, with a riser (an 8-inch piece of PVC pipe sticking up about 2 inches) every 220 feet. Our homemade insulated tank is basically a 35-gallon plastic drum insulated with foam inside a 55-gallon drum. With heavy stock density to keep the water flowing, it never freezes during the daytime, even when the wind chill is -20F. We only need open the tank in the mornings. But if the cattle have to walk a half mile to water, we open it morning and evening.
Heres how to build it:

  • 1 55-gallon plastic drum cut roughly in half.
  • 1 35-gallon plastic drum cut roughly in half.
  • 1 bottom entry float valve (preferably the Job valve).
  • 3 spray cans of expanding foam
  • 1 lid cut out of a 55-gallon drum.
  1. Cut the 55-gallon drum to the desired height.
  2. Cut the 35-gallon drum 3 inches shorter than the height of the 55-gallon drum.
  3. Cut away half of the bottom of the 55-gallon drum, leaving about a 2 inch lip around the outside. The stock will drink through this opening.
  4. Cut a hole for the float in the bottom of the 35-gallon drum.
  5. Set the 55-gallon drum upright like you would any other water tank (except this one has half of the bottom cut out).
  6. Center the 35-gallon drum upside down in the 55-gallon drum. The hole for the float valve will be up.
  7. Cut a hole in the lid from a 55-gallon drum that is slightly larger than the riser and lines up with the hole for the float in the 35-gallon drum when placed on the 55-gallon drum.
  8. Fill the space between the tanks with foam to the top of the 55-gallon drum. (For now, just a ring of foam at the top will do. You'll fill up the rest of the space in Step 10.) Make sure it is air tight top and bottom.
  9. Immediately -- while the foam is still wet -- press the lid with the riser hole onto the 55-gallon drum. Weigh it down and wait for the foam to dry.
  10. After the foam is dry, fill the space between the bottom of the 35-gallon drum and the attached lid with foam. You might have to cut some small holes in the lid to spray the foam through to fill the space completely.
  11. Install the float.
  12. Flip the tank upright, and you're done.
  13. To set up the tank in the pasture, level the dirt around the riser, and plug the hose in. Stuff the excess hose in the hole. Throw dirt, compost, silage, or similar material around the outside of the tank to form and air-proof seal.
If you have any questions, drop me a line at stocker500@juno.com.

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