Christmas was cold. Not just cold, but like, disrespectfully cold! Kentucky usually doesn’t see winter weather that is dangerous to be out in, but December 23rd was such a day.
The Mesonet weather station at the farm measured the extremes of those three days. We had five consecutive days with lows of at least 12° F. During the worst of the weather on Friday, Eden Shale experienced a low of -8° F with wind gusts of up to 41 mph recorded. This resulted in a measured windchill of -33° F.
This harsh weather showed me how resilient our cattle can be. When in good health and having access to proper nutrition, cattle are able to withstand some pretty extreme conditions. But I still felt sorry for them that day as I packed buckets of grain through the wind and snow to make sure they had a belly full of energy. (Image 1)
Once fed, each group needed a drink of water. And as everyone reading this knows, that was the hard task of the day. However, three of the five water tanks were open and functioning as designed that morning.
The first tank was a Ritchie trough style water tank in the barn with an electric heater keeping it open. Cheating I know, but nice none the less.
The second tank that was open was a tire water tank. This tank had an insulative lid that covers 2/3’s of the surface allowing the cows to drink from each side. There were 97 cows using this tank and it was still open and functioning properly. Having that number of cows drinking replenishing the water with warmer water from under ground, and having some woods nearby that served as a windbreak, both aided in the tire not freezing.
The third tank that was functioning normally was Dr. Higgin’s tire tank with the automated lid that I highlighted last month. The lid on this tank covers the entire surface of the tire and it has watering pans located on either side. When the cattle walk up to the tank a pump fills the water pans to allow them to drink. When the cattle leave, the water turns off and drains back under the lid and down into the tire. This means there is no water left exposed to freeze while the cattle are not present. This tire watered the cattle unassisted for the duration of the extreme weather. (Image 2 & 3)
See below for a video of this design in action during the harsh conditions.